Six on Saturday: Trentham Gardens in Late September

Dark leaves, with bronze autumn colour and a white flower spike
1. Actea simplex showing burnished autumn colour

I didn’t really want to go to a garden, but I forced myself. Hours sitting in a traffic jam (more accurately, a series of traffic jams) had taken their toll and, although Trentham Gardens was not far out of my way, I wasn’t feeling it.

As I was wavering, I remembered once calling a friend, MVM, to get out of going to see some gardens as I was not feeling well. He said “You’ll be sorry! You’ll like it! There’ll be flowers!”. I went, and it was that day I got to know my sweetheart. The influence of the two of them, spreading as it does over time and space, was powerful enough for me steer my car away from the default path, up the M6, to invest in all the things we invest in when we visit a garden. 

Small blue flowers with autumn foliage
2. Ceratostigma (Blue plumbago)

It was after 4 o’clock when I arrived at The Trentham Estate, so entry to the garden was only £6. I had expected to see lots of flowers in the Piet Oudolf borders, and remember thinking apart from a few asters, it all looked a bit green. Perhaps the dry summer had shortened the season.

I’d stupidly not eaten much all day, so I bought an egg mayo sandwich and sat down on a bench under a tree to eat it. Nobody was around, just the birds and bees and what looked suspiciously like a horsefly. That’s when I had a strange experience. As I ate, and relaxed, my eyes stopped comparing what I’d imagined to what was. I looked around me, grew more in tune with my surroundings and experienced a strange shifting.

The scene around me stopped looking uniform and started to acquire character and individuality. It seemed to happen over a few seconds, perhaps a minute at most, as if a camera lens was slowly being turned into focus. Seedheads, grasses, flowers and leaves started to compete for attention in the late afternoon sunshine. The sky was blue and the light, alluring.

Autumn foliage of a geranium lit up by the sun
3. Hardy geranium

The pictures I’m sharing here are towards the extremes: flashes of autumn colour. You’re seeing this on your phone, tablet, laptop or computer – wherever you are, I hope you’ll be able to feel part of the magic of a great English garden, peaceful, but full of life on an early September evening.

Garden with colourful fence and panels backlit by the setting sun
4. Trentham’s Sensory Garden at Night

Places I’d only ever seen in the daytime had extra atmosphere at night. Backlighting boosted The Sensory Garden, pulling the painted fence and plastic panels into closer harmony with the tree leaves that were just starting to take on autumn colour.

In another small garden room a few hundred metres away, a patch of wildflowers was frankly astonishing, like a dream of high summer. Linaria’s folk name fairy bouquet seemed apt: it felt like you could take a scythe, slice off a handful and just drop them into a vase to make an ethereal posy.

Colourful wildflowers
5. Linaria in the wildflower garden

As the light began to fade, it seemed time to resume my journey home. I made my way round the edge of the lake from the giant dandelions back to the gate, listening to the swans flapping and honking at each other as they set off in the opposite direction (what time do swans go to bed, I wonder?).

Heron patrolling the edge of a lake
6. Heron

Stealthily stalking the edge of the lake, a wading bird waited for his evening meal to rashly volunteer. The bird saw me approaching, but didn’t think I was a threat: I was thrilled to get close enough to capture a picture with my iPhone. Just a couple of hours with nature had transformed the way I was feeling.

I passed a middle-aged jogger on an evening run around the lake. How much difference it must make to have this garden close enough at hand to be your gym! It might not get me jogging, but a stroll… a stroll would be lovely any clear, calm evening like this.

Next time you’re wondering whether to do something harmless that you usually enjoy, do yourself a favour – remember my friend’s wise words of temptation: “There’ll be flowers!”

Shared as part of The Propagator’s Six on Saturday.

38 Replies to “Six on Saturday: Trentham Gardens in Late September”

  1. The hardy geranium and the Actea are simply beautiful shots Susan. I know what you mean about not being in the mood, but once you step inside a garden some kind of spell occurs and you enter a different world where all the senses become finely tuned. I am very glad you went here.

  2. That’s a living in the moment experience for sure, Susan. It hasn’t often happened to me, but it’s wonderful when it does! What stunning photos you’ve posted about it, too. The meadow one is the one that really appeals to me-such gentle, sweet colours. I like also the flower that’s in the Acatea photo. Is it Cimicifuga?

    1. It is one plant. I originally titled the picture Cimicifuga but double checked before posting and the RHS were saying it is now Actea simplex. Either name works for me, although it is near impossible to keep up with the changes.

      1. Oh goodness, I’m just learning to spell Cimicifuga, and I don’t yet know how to pronounce it!

  3. The magical effect of gardens is not to be underestimated. Sounds like this one was able to cast its spell upon you. Lovely captures, Susan– esp. loved the hardy geranium leaves.

  4. #4 looks like daytime, with the sun off in the background to the left. Is it just difficult to get a picture of at night? It looks like a sumac to the right.

          1. I meant that we ‘lack’ it. I am surprised that you like it though, because it seemed to me that those who were familiar with it considered it to be a common weed. I was not sure what to think about it. I would be concerned that I would be allergic to it, like poison oak. I really dislike poison oak! Yet, there are those who like the color in autumn.

  5. This is romanticism at its best. That’s what is happening to you when you join nature’s wonderful world of peace and serenity. Your pictures tell the story of your happiness, Susan.

  6. What an enchanting post and the words totally fit your sensations at discovering the truth of the scene.

    The late afternoon shafts of light filtering through the various leaves always brings a delight to one’s eyes.

    I can well imagine your senses being assaulted by the beauty of it all and it EXACTLY describes my walks home at dusk through the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne when I lived next to them on/off for 25 years. You can now well imagine the enchantment I found walking to/from work through the Botanic Gardens early morning and late afternoon. (I worked across the road from the Herbarium in the southern rim of the Botanic Gardens, a mere 12-15 minutes walk along the main road, but 40-50 minutes of sheer bliss through the Botanic Gardens in the warmer months, especially with Daylight Savings Time).

    1. That must have been wonderful, Vicki – something you always have in memory, but something very easy to miss. Although I didn’t know about your walk to and from work, funnily enough I did think of you on my way there that day. You have mentioned that it is not as easy for you to get out into gardens with your camera these days and thinking of that gave me an extra nudge to appreciate having the chance to enjoy it.

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