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Italian Gardens Update

The first three months of the year welcomed a lot of change to the Italian Garden. Discover how the garden has changed from winter through to early spring as well as the regeneration projects the team have been carrying out.

At the beginning of the year, the focus was on cutting back the upper beds and long borders and pruning the roses in the David Austin Rose border. In late January/early February, the team spent two weeks on the 100m trellis walk, pruning the climbing rose and wisteria, to encourage new growth and to train the climbers into the right positions. This task is done twice a year, once in January/February and once in July/August.

The weather in the gardens has been up and down – at points, we have had full sun, followed by flurries of snow. As a result of the changeable weather, some budding spring bulbs have been opening later this year, but as you walk around the Italian Garden now, you should be able to spot Narcissus  ‘Tête-à-tête’ and drifts of purple Crocus. If you look closely as you walk around the upper and lower beds, you’ll see delicate swaths of blue as Muscari ameniacum and Scilla siberica pop up.

Over the last month, we have been working concurrently on two big projects – the start of the Italian Garden Four Year Regeneration Project and the 2020 Spring Bulb Festival.

Italian Garden Four Year Regeneration Project

The lower beds in the Italian Garden were originally planted 15 years ago. Over the years, some of the plants have died out due to weather and other plants have proven to be quite invasive. We are currently digging out East and West Lowers 13 and 14 – the two lower beds by Perseus. Much of the old plant material will be removed and replanted elsewhere on the estate, some plants, such as Euphorbia Palustris, will be left in the beds. We will be planting new 2L plants in order to get the beds back to Tom Stuart-Smiths original design.

We will also be introducing some new plants as part of Tom’s design, including Lilium Regale.

Over the next four years, we will be replanting 16 beds in the Italian Garden, with four beds being dug out each year.

2020 Spring Bulb Festival

Bulbs are starting to sprout, and some are already open in our Spring Bulb Festival Pots.

Head up to Church Flats to see the early bloomers on our Bulb Theatre display, which is made up of rarer varieties of bulbs. Displayed in pots of single varieties, the aim is to highlight container-grown bulbs that stand out on their own.

A favourite from the display is Crocus Prins Claus, named for Prince Claus of the Netherlands, and introduced in 1959. It is a multi-flowering crocus with goblet-shaped flowers – on overcast days it will remain closed, showing the dark purple blotches on the outside of the petals. On sunny days the flowers open wide, displaying a brilliant white.

The Trentham Flower Cart has also been set up Church Flats, creating a multi-view photo point. Pots of all sizes have been placed around the cart, allowing you to choose the best angle and background for your spring shot. The cart is surrounded with a mixture of Narcissus (Daffodils), Tulips and Fritillaria, including Fritillaria Raddeana, a smaller lemon-yellow variety. On the cart, you will see a mixture of dwarf Narcissus, including Julia Jane, which is already blooming in the beds of the Upper Flower Garden.

At this stage, it’s all about the small details. Now that the pots are being placed around the Italian Gardens, make sure you take a closer look at some of the interesting foliage that’s being produced by the early bloomers. The foliage of Tulip kaufmannia ‘Hearts Delight’ is striped with a rich maroon, whereas Tulip Dream Touch is edged bright pink.  

If you head over to the rose border, you’ll be able to see some early complementing blooms in the pots, before the main display of Tulips and Narcissus open. Anemone cor. ‘Slyphide’ is bursting out of some of the pots with dark pink petals, and the delicate star-shaped flowers of the pale pink Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ are opening in others.

More of the bulb display is still to flower throughout the Spring Bulb Festival, so make sure check-in throughout March, April and May to see the displays as they change throughout the season.