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A walk or a garden- this is both
Trentham Gardens (Stoke-on-Trent)
Member Name: amyandoli
Trentham Gardens (Stoke-on-Trent)
Advantages: Seasonal interest
Disadvantages: The walk used to be free
If you've never been to Trentham Gardens before, you won't know there's 4 main parts to it: The Gardens, The Shopping Centre, the walk around the lake, which skims The Monkey Forest border. The Monkey Forest is £6 for adults and £4.50 for children. The shopping centre is free as long as you don't buy! And the walk around the lake was free, and living 15 minutes or so drive away, I used to visit every other week to stretch the legs with friends. It's now £5 for adults or £3.50 for children to do the walk- the same walk, no improvements or changes that I've seen- but with this price you also get access to the Gardens (which were always charged), open 9am-4pm.
Now I do enjoy gardening as a hobby and visiting gardens mainly National Trust and touristy ones, I can spend a day just wandering round, taking photos and making notes and sketches. Trentham faired well with these attractions, but I'm a bit sore about paying for a walk that was free- in my opinion the gardens are worth visiting 4 times a year only to see the changes, and I can no longer justify going every other week to pay for the walk, so have found alternatives.
I was impressed to learn that Capability Brown had a hand in designing the landscape in the mid 1700s. You enter the gardens across a pretty bridge which is built across a river. Trenthams Gardens are formal style, Italinate, with a main walk, bordered by mixed perennial planting which means it's worth visiting once in each season to appreciate its full cycle. At the end of the main walk is a lovely view across the lake, with it's islands, you can see the walk (that was free).
To the left a pretty prairie area has been planted, best enjoyed in summer. To the right are several show gardens (some designed locally, a rather nice tropical themed one, and an eco one...), access to the lake walk an the trees surrounding it, and a children's play area. The play area was great fun for my 11 year old cousin, it's one of the chunky log style ones, with monkey bars, giant tyre swing, assault course, normal swings and slide.
In took me (my camera and notebook) a morning to go round everything the first time, including an hour in the play area with my cousin. The other 3 times I've been it's only taken 2 hours, and all I felt I gained was seeing the cycle of the planting- most impressive in my opinion was the contrast of colour and texture between the outside borders grasses and sedums. I took my parents who are not in any way interested in gardening, but enjoy a walk- they preferred the lake walk to the actual garden area. So that leads me to conclude that if you're interested in gardening- go for a visit, best in Summer if you want to see the prarie and show gardens at their best, and if you like near enough, try and go once each season to see the changes. If you're not interested in gardening- the walk is good around the lake, but not £5 good- get a local map and find one for free!
If you want to fill a day- with minimal driving, it's worth visiting the shopping centre too, and the Monkey Forest is good fun- for all ages!
Summary: A morning out.