The expansion of Nigel Dunnett's annual meadows has introduced a contemporary understory to the newly-revealed landscape designed by Capability Brown.
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 Dunnett'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 for a month now, and will continue until October and November, gradually changing to yellow and gold as the summer turns into autumn.
The new perennial meadow at Trentham. Image: Nigel Dunnett
The new perennial meadow at Trentham was planted in spring 2016 - it is all created from planting, not seeding. It is 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. Dunnett 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.
Trentham already has a reputation for its new wave perennial plantings, introduced over the past twelve years by Tom Stuart Smith and Piet Oudolf. Dunnett's work takes this further to create one of the largest sequences of annual and perennial meadows in the country.