The Italian Gardens at Trentham

August Gardening Update

In August we had a visit from the designer Tom Stuart-Smith. As regular readers of the garden’s blog will know, his design for the garden is the centrepiece to its successful rejuvenation. There is an amazing range of plants selected to suit our site, including some that you don’t often see in gardens open to the public.

The scheme has developed over the last 10 years and following our tackling of the couch grass problems we have had we are about to start a review of the balance and depth of colour range with Tom taking this exciting opportunity to introduce new detail to some areas now that the scheme is well established. Tom is keen to introduce some modern introductions of Sedums, Crocosmia and Helenium, these species all do really well for us here and the RHS trails work has highlighted some great new cultivars we have not got in our range so watch out for some new colours and forms making their appearance as we work round looking to create spaces to house them.

Tom is keen to revisit areas of the upper beds by working with the beautiful grass Stipa gigantea, to regain the balance and rhythm of their original placements whilst also taking this opportunity to add detail with additional perennials. This will involve the gardener team and volunteers lifting and dividing large blocks of planting and sharing them out over other beds including some moves into the woodland meadows, giving us plenty of work to be doing over this winter!

In the meantime though, day to day maintenance is very important, and we have been cutting back the leaves of our bearded irises to form a ‘fan,’ in order to prevent them being uprooted or damaged by the wind and keep the clumps looking tidy. The grass is greening up now after the welcome reappearance of the rain, so we are back to our usual mowing and edging routine, and we are giving our Euonymus ‘Green Spire’ a trim to keep it tidy. We planted some of it last year in order to act as a replacement for our box which was starting to suffer with blight, and we are cutting away any bits that have died off due to winter damage and summer scorching.

Soon we’ll be saying a fond farewell to our fantastic trainees Naomi Payne and Egle Zinkute, who are moving on to further training and employment. They’ve worked really hard to keep the garden looking its very best during a challenging season, and we wish them all the best in their future horticultural careers, good luck guys! This has created an opportunity to take on a new garden trainee, details of which are on our jobs section of our website.

Tips for the August garden:

  • Take cuttings from tender perennials such as pelargoniums and fuchsias.
  • Lift and dry onions, feed and water tomatoes regularly and summer prune gooseberry and red currants.
  • Cut back any hardy geraniums that haven’t been cut back earlier to encourage a second flush of flower and keep the clumps neat.
  • Sow hardy annuals – these will overwinter and flower early in summer the following year.