Grange Road, Biddulph, ST8 7SD
Telephone: 01782 517999
Steps and uneven paths throughout the Garden. Not for anyone on wheels.
Stone Road, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST4 8AX
Telephone: 01782 646646
Review by John Lea - May 2011
Photographs supplied by Trentham Estate and Gardens
The Gardens were first created in 1840 to enhance Trentham Hall. With the Hall demolished, the Italianate Gardens became neglected. It was decided to revive them, and Chelsea gold medal winner, Tom Stuart-Smith, was brought in to design them. The work started in spring of 2004, and we first visited them in the spring of 2005 and as this was our fourth visit we have seen them mature and develop. As a measure of how successful that has been the Gardens received the European Garden Award 2010.
Our visit started with a super meal in the Italian restaurant in the shopping village. There are several different places to eat among the shops and it is from there you enter the Gardens. A disabled toilet is accessed from outside and behind the entrance ticket office. Admission was £7.25 and carer £3 65. There are no electric buggies available just manual wheelchairs, but the paths around the Italian garden are hard packed fine gravel and good for wheelchairs.
After you cross the bridge and before entering the Italian Garden a prairie garden, on your right. contains an interesting mixture of grasses. Just about every imaginable grass creatively laid out and enhanced in places with flowers to give some colour.
In the very large Italian Garden the site of the old Hall was at the top end, and at the bottom is a mile long lake. As the Gardens are on two levels you can follow the higher, outer path round the outside, looking down on the formal garden, or go down different reasonably gentle slopes to wander in and out of the many different flower beds.
I like my Gardens to blend creatively into the landscape but here they impose in a very artificial landscape. Where as my wife, who gives illustrated talks on Cheshire Gardens among others, marvels at the artistic, innovative mixture of flowers, grasses and shrubs used to blend and create the contrast in the different beds. And they are all well gardened!
Recently built Tearooms with all facilities overlooked the Gardens from the far side. Situated in more natural parkland, with drifts of spring flowering bulbs under the trees next to the Gardens. Further on less smooth paths take you long distances along the shore of the lake.
In fact, I understand that you can follow those paths right round to the Monkey Forest where 140 Barbary Macaques apes roam in 60 acres of beautiful, mature woodland. We have never tried those paths; when we took our grandchildren to see the apes we used a completely separate car park about a mile further along the main road from the shopping village. Wheelchair paths are marked in the monkey Forest. There is also a restaurant there with all facilities.
You can also sail on the lake in a wheelchair friendly boat but that is as treat I've yet to enjoy.
Yes, this visit comes with a warning, you are no doubt used to coming out of Gardens via a gift shop, well here you come out of the Gardens via 50 shops, and they are all wheelchair/credit card friendly. Ouch! And to add to the danger there is a large garden centre just across the car park.
I should add that, apart from the simple pleasure of seeing these gardens, such is the creative innovative design of them they are a ‘must visit’ for any serious gardener or garden designer.
If you live further away then stay in the area and take two days because there is much to see and do on the 700-acre Trentham Estate.