Having fallen into severe neglect, Trentham's revival commenced in 2004 with the major restoration of the site’s architectural bones, paths, sculpture, and more.
While the strong and experienced in-house team tasked with the revival were guided by a thorough knowledge of the garden and estate’s historical significance, it was nevertheless decided that the approach should not be restricted to a clinical restoration. An important part of Trentham's significance is that it has always moved forward.
Supported by the in-house team, Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf were commissioned to add a new veneer in the form of vast contemporary perennial plantings inserted into the restored historic gardens which had long since been grassed over.
Meanwhile a strong focus on visitor engagement saw a trail of beautiful wire fairy sculptures created by a local artist to lead visitors around Capability Brown’s mile long lake, and the creation of a series of show gardens to broaden the horticultural interest and provide visitors with ‘take-home’ ideas.
A 42-seat electric catamaran provides regular cruises on the lake – part of a programme of activity that includes regular walks, talks, bush craft and family workshops.
A newly launched schools programme is being run in conjunction with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
In 2013 Phytophera Ramorum was discovered on invasive rhododendron ponticum which had colonised much of the estate. Supported by the relevant bodies, it was decided to remove all of it, as well as Larch, to improve conservation and irradicate the disease.
Much of the estate’s historic landscape had been overplanted with coniferous forestry and it was decided that this would also be removed at the same time.
By 2015 some 30,000 trees had been removed and many acres of rhododendron ponticum cleared, revealing lost parkland and heathland as well as views and vistas long concealed. These newly revealed spaces have provided further opportunities to restore and support the historic landscape.
Most recently Nigel Dunnett was invited to support the team with re-planting around Capability Brown’s mile long lake. The brief was to add a new and contemporary layer of planting that respected Trentham's historical significance while moving the plantings forward. The result was creation of one of the largest sequences of woodland and meadow planting in the country.
While Trentham's historic significance has been revealed and acknowledged, the garden today is fresh and contemporary with many elements to draw visitors in and keep them returning throughout the year