Annual Meadow at Trentham Gardens
The meadow planting at Trentham ties in beautifully with the tercentenary of the iconic ‘Capability’ Brown in 2016. Trentham has marked this important event by doing what we have done elsewhere in the garden - understand the past to influence the future and present in an informed and contemporary way. The main gardens have been enhanced by vast perennial displays created by Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf and the work around the lake (and elsewhere) aims to find contemporary enhancements and provide a sustainable solution for Trentham’s long term management.
Trentham Gardens are more alive with colour this summer than ever before, with the expansion of Nigel Dunnett’s Annual Meadows. These have introduced a distinctly contemporary understory to Capability Brown’s newly revealed landscape. The main annual meadow, is now in its second year on this site and extends to 21,000 square metres connecting Trentham Lake with Brown’s historic parkland beyond. The site was cultivated over in the spring, and sown in May 2016. Three of Nigel’s Pictorial Meadow mixes have been used. The main area is the ‘classic mix’, which at the moment is mostly pink and blue, the ‘gold’ mix that he developed for the Olympic Park - now mostly orange with some blue, and the ‘pastel’ mix, now mostly blue with some red - this is full of soft pink cosmos for later in the summer. The main meadow area has been flowering since early July and will continue until October and November, gradually changing to yellow and gold as the summer turns into autumn. Annual meadows have also been introduced at the main entrance roundabout and the lakeside walk areas towards the boat and train station.
The new perennial meadow at Trentham was planted in spring 2016 - it is all created from planting, not seeding. It’s the first thing that people see now when they come into Trentham Gardens, and it meets the edge of the Capability Brown lake. The main flowering of the planting is from early through to late summer - attention then switches to the adjacent Piet Oudolf gardens that take over the display until late autumn. The intention with this meadowy planting was to create something that is highly romantic - a pepped-up version of a traditional hay meadow. Nigel wanted to work within a very clear colour palette - whites, blues, purples, pinks, reds, although there are some dots of yellow in there too. The main grass is Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Gold Veil’. Although there is a lot of beautiful small-scale detail and plant association within this planting, the main aim is create an overwhelming impression of colour and drama.
Woodland perennial meadows on the west side of the lake bloom in gentle hues of white and blues in the spring. Look out for Asters flowering in this area in the autumn.
Trentham already has a reputation for its new wave perennial plantings, introduced over the past twelve years by horticultural giants Tom Stuart Smith and Piet Oudolf. Nigel’s work takes this significantly further forward to create one of the largest sequences of annual and perennial meadows in the country.
(Pictures taken July 19th 2016)