Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best Gardens or Arboretum Team

Winner - Trentham Gardens & Estate Team, St. Modwen

Image: Trentham Gardens
Image: Trentham Gardens

With annual visitor numbers of close to three quarters of a million, and an events programme drawing 55,000 more, maintaining and continuing the development of Trentham Gardens to a high standard 364 days a year is both the number one priority for the 22-strong Trentham Gardens & Estates Team – and its top challenge.

So how have they achieved it?

Firstly, by establishing clear objectives across all areas of work including the upgrading and expansion of facilities and horticultural features, to the development of area maintenance plans.  Strong communication across the gardens and estate team - and between the gardens team and other teams such as the Visitor Experience team - is also key.  The gardens team has prioritised the development of shared resources including costings information, procurement processes, plant records and plans.

Members of the team understand each other’s strengths and there is a strong culture of camaraderie. Success is celebrated through staff and volunteer newsletters, entry into awards and opportunities to feature in media coverage. 

Meanwhile excellent technical practices aid the maintenance of a challenging range of plantings from perennial displays by leading designers Tom Stuart-Smith, Piet Oudolf and Nigel Dunnett to rose borders, show gardens, lawns, annual meadows, perennial meadows, estate woodlands and flood meadows.

A collaborative approach across the gardens and estates team’s six specialist sub-teams - the Italian Garden Team, Eastern and Western Pleasure Gardens Team, Lakeside Team, Facilities Maintenance Team and Estates Team – has achieved improved outcomes in site care.

Achievements include a better onsite experience for users from additional extensive plantings (Burke’s Wood, Annual Meadows, South Meadow, Sunny Meadow and Golden Summer Meadow), refurbishment of existing plantings, pathway improvements, the addition of interpretation and play area improvements.

Key team outcomes include: 

  • Working collaboratively with contractors to deliver 2-mile lakeside pathway resurfacing
  • Restocking the lakeside woodlands with over 1000 trees and over 1600 shrubs
  • Delivery of large-scale projects in-house such as preparation, installation and maintenance of more than 100,000 perennials and 250,000 bulbs in planted meadows.
  • Maintaining over 10 hectares of formal gardens and refurbishing perennial schemes created by Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf
  • Collaborative development of play area
  • Successful maintenance of mature and veteran tree specimens.
  • Tree risk management strategy developed to identify and mitigate hazards.
  • Efficient and timely processing and recycling of windblown timber for use as sculptures, play features, habitat creation, mulch and firewood


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