One of my gardening heroes is Nigel Dunnett, he specialises in research of 'modern' meadows and planting schemes using diverse plants with wildlife in mind but also plants to give a long flowering season. He was involved in developing the Pictorial meadows seed mixes, colourful flower meadow seed mix which are less reliant on nutrient poor soil. Originally I guess he had more of a lean towards landscape design in an urban setting and he was one of the designers for the Olympic park planting, he's transformed parts of Sheffield with his innovative planting plans and designs and he's also done the planting round the Barbican in London. He's a big advocate of green roofs and water management within garden design and has designed a number of gardens with these sorts of themes for the Chelsea Flower Show. I heard that he was developing some new perennial meadows and planting schemes at Trentham Gardens near Stoke and so this was on my summer list of gardens to visit.
Trentham was obviously a very big and impressive estate at one time but there are only a few remains of the house left. The demise of the estate was partly blamed on pollution in this once very industrial area and the house was abandoned in 1905, eventually sold and demolished in 1911. It seems there have been a few semi-revivals of the estate in the 1930s and again in the 1980s. My sisters have very fond memories of visits there as children, remembering the outdoor swimming pool there. But there appeared to be no big redevelopment until it was bought by a property company, who went on to build a shopping village with restaurants and a large garden centre at one side of the estate. This might make you cringe a bit but maybe it was necesary to revive the garden. They certainly seem to been innovative regarding the garden, bringing in experienced designers and plantsman such as Piet Oudolf, Tom Stuart-Smith and Nigel Dunnett.
This summer there has been a scheme to engage children on the walk round the lake and through the estate where you can seek out the Trentham fairies which can be found dotted around the lake. These were delightful little wire creations which certainly engaged the child in me!
Andy Burgess who is based in Cheshire and creates them from old tree stumps using a chain saw!
This top one was my favourite, a group of otters.