Trentham Head Gardeners Blog – Autumn 2023 - Trentham Estate

Trentham Head Gardeners Blog – Autumn 2023

As I write this in October, we have just had our first light frost of the year. There was a slight tinge of white on the grass and a lovely mist rising from the lake. Whilst a bit of a fresher one for the team, I know deep down they are glad for it as the colder weather will, or at least should, start to slow the grass down. Normally this time of year, the frequency of cuts reduces anyway, and the mower comes into its own for leaf collecting, but past few weeks we cant seem to cut the grass quick enough before it regrows.

Luke Bartle – Head Gardener, Trentham Estate

Autumn for the team at Trentham means bulbs, and thousands of them. Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of bulbs have been planted to ensure our horticultural displays continue to develop, at the same time ensuring there is a lovely supply of nectar for the early pollinators.

Piet Oudolph’s Long Borders in the Italian Gardens are receiving some overdue TLC. Any keen-eyed visitor this year will have noticed a few gaps in these borders this summer whilst we are attempting (and I repeat attempting!) to get on top of our cooch grass problem. This persistent weed is causing one or 2 headaches in the Italian Gardens team. We have been splitting and dividing our existing planting material to fill in the gaps and, hopefully, out compete the cooch, fingers crossed. Splitting and dividing is way of basically getting plants for free and a great autumn job. This is something that the Lakeside Team are planning to do with the Lakeside Café – taking material from the existing planting beds to make a whole new bed.

The Retail Team have nearly finished swapping the planting in the containers for their winter scheme. I’m sure you’ll agree the summer scheme looked great for months and was quite a sad moment to be pulling the planting apart. But it’s a necessary evil to ensure that the containers carry on looking great for the winter. Please don’t worry though, those Canna Lillies will be back next year – they are just nicely tucked up for the winter in our polytunnels.

Its an exciting time in the Gardens at the moment as we are in the midst of planning and developing some new planting schemes across the Gardens and Lakeside. This will mean that you will notice some ‘bare’ or fallow patches across the gardens this winter and into next year. This will allow us time to manage weed problems and cultivate the ground ready for planting. Keep an eye out for more updates on this.

As with most job lists, they seem to be ever ending. I am currently sat looking and adding onto our Autumn/Winter 2023 tasks. One of the standout jobs that isn’t on our ‘business as usual’ lists is the removal of the box hedging in the Italian Garden. The team have been struggling with managing the hedging for years and am sure for those of you that visit often, it has seen better days. The biggest issue isn’t box blight actually, but box tree moth/caterpillar. They love munching away on the leaves, thus defoliating the plants. We have decided that the removal is now the most sustainable option. Euonymous was planted a few years ago as a trial/replacement, but that is showing signs of significant winter stress.

If you want to get to know more about the Gardens Team and what Autumn works they are up to, we have scheduled in a couple of days for visitors to drop in and see the team in action. Friday 27th October, the Italian Team will be planting up thousands of bulbs into terracotta pots – using a very technical term of creating a ‘bulb lasagna’…. And the same day, the Lakeside Team will be splitting and dividing plants from planting round the Lakeside Café to make that new border. Friday 3rd November, the Pleasure Grounds Team will be planting bulbs in the play area beds, whilst the Lakeside Team will be sowing yellow rattle down the east side of the lake to help start some new wildflower areas. Please do come over, say hello to the team and get to know what they are doing, how and why.  

Right, better go blow some leaves now!