Tom Stuart-Smith to revive Trentham’s Italian Garden as part of the 20th Anniversary plans

The unique, 186-acre historic parkland garden will undergo a further series of ambitious garden development plans, part of a programme of events marking the 20th anniversary of the Gardens’ re-opening.

Trentham Gardens
credit: Trentham Gardens

Located in Staffordshire, the Trentham Estate is celebrating 20 years since the reopening of the gardens following huge regeneration by St Modwen. Marking the 20th anniversary, Trentham is launching the Gardens Revisited Project which will focus on the Italian Garden and Rose Border developments with a 3-year phased programme, with garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith and David Austin Roses.

Twenty years ago, the historic parkland garden – with Capability Brown lake and parkland, was reimagined as a sustainable contemporary restoration designed by Piet Oudolf, Tom Stuart-Smith and Nigel Dunnett. Led by Stuart-Smith the revival plans, transformed the once derelict 10-acre Victorian garden to one of the finest contemporary gardens in Britain. James Alexander Sinclair described it as “The garden makeover of the decade”.

Tom Stuart-Smith is to revisit his original designs for the Italian Garden, seeking to build on its legacy while introducing contemporary elements that reflect the evolving nature of garden design. Stuart-Smith’s visionary work, which initially transformed Trentham Gardens, will be honoured and updated to ensure the Gardens continue to inspire visitors for years to come.

“As the challenges of our time pushes us to new ways, more resilient and in tune with the environment, it is now the moment to revisit and adapt what we have done in the past. There has been a lot of research and progress happening in the planting world since we planted the Italian garden back in 2004. The new makeover of the garden allows us to put new insights into practice: to let go of the species acting poorly in the plant community, to reuse those species that are thriving, and to add those with high potential to master climate change”, said Stuart-Smith.

Trentham is partnering with David Austin Roses for a complete redesign of the Rose Border. The revived rose garden will feature a curated selection of pink and white roses, showcasing the diversity and beauty of the English Rose collection. The redesign will also incorporate rare and heritage species roses to enhance the border’s diversity, focusing on fragrance, flower shapes, and sizes to create a unique sensory experience.

The Lakeside Walk development has been an on-going process since 2017. Trentham is collaborating with Professor Nigel Dunnett in creating a series of contemporary, environmentally sustainable and naturalistic perennial meadows to increase the visual impact of the walk as well as increasing our diverse range of flora and fauna.

The garden enhancement plans are not only a tribute to the past 20 years of growth and success, but also a commitment to the future as the Trentham Estate continues to maintain and develop the gardens.

“Our 20th Anniversary and the Gardens Revisited Project is a wonderful opportunity to reflect how schemes have performed over the past 20 years, but more importantly, looking at planting that will last the next 20 years and more. A lot has changed in the last 20 years since the Gardens were planted in their original schemes, so it’s great to be revisiting this and to build on and future-proof the Gardens”, said Trentham Head Gardener Luke Bartle.