One shaft of intense autumnal sunlight is all that it takes to set the garden on visual fire, especially when the garden is planted prairie-style, jam packed with vibrant perennials and golden grasses. The results can be fleetingly spectacular – even biblical! Meandering through the maze of paths in the Floral Labyrinth at Trentham Gardens I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a ‘burning bush’ ahead. The bush turned out to be a deciduous grass, Panicum virgatum ‘Shenendoah’ or Switch Grass, which transforms in early autumn from the steely green-blue of summer to vibrant shades of red, violet and purple. Add a dash of warm, late afternoon sun to the already mellow and moody colour palette and the attention-grabbing effect is complete – a real life ‘burning bush’.
The annual wildflower meadow at Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire reached an autumn crescendo last week: swathes of red and yellow Coreopsis, dotted with blue cornflowers, white umbellifers and statuesque Red Orach, combining to create a rich tapestry of colour and texture. The overall view was reminiscent of the great paintings of the Impressionist period – a sea of coloured dots sparkling in the late afternoon light. Breathtaking!