What did you and your family do on Mother’s Day? Well, we decided to head to the award winning Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent for the very first time. We have heard so much about the place but never really had the opportunity to head there untill we were contacted by the Trentham team to feature the Gardens for the blog. Located in Staffordshire, Trentham Gardens is mainly a formal Italian garden set within a large 300 acreas woodland area. The layout the gardens was designed by Sir Charles Barry in the 1840s and has been since restored many times with a major redevelopment taking place in 2000. Trentham Estate now mainly consists of the Italian Gardens, Monkey Forest, Shopping Village, Restaurants and Cafes amongst others. Do take a couple of minutes to view the short video which we have made of our trip to Trentham Gardens. We also share lots of photos with details on how we spend out day there in this blog post so enjoy reading it and do head to our Facebook page for more photos.
Upon arrival at the Gardens, we parked up (there was ample of parking) and headed to get our tickets at the Registration Desk. Do speak to the staff, who are happy to assist you with obtaining the cheapest admission tickets on the day or family tickets… for example, it was Mother’s Day when we went, hence Mums enter the garden Free of charge with another paying adult. Staff at the desk were very helpful and explained to us what was happening on the day and the best route to see the lake which was great as we got to plan our itinerary for the day. We noticed, the annual ticket holders just passed through on the right after they scanned their card and did not have to que like us.
We were given brochures and maps of the Gardens to help us get around. We wanted to make sure we did everything we could for the day which consisted of basket weaving, getting on the miniature train ride and maybe even getting our portrait sketched by John. Our kids on the other hand were more interested to start the day off doing the Fairy Trail, so off we went on our adventure hunting for fairies.
The Garden was large with beautifully laid out paths for walking which made our walk wonderful as we admired the green woodlands…. we felt very much with nature. Much to our surprise, we suddenly spotted this Bronze Hare looking at us, we soon found out that this was part of David Meredith’s stunning bronze sculptures which was placed around the Gardens to spot. There are 12 statues in total of various animals such as Deer, Old Brown, Twoo Twits, Giant Snails, Night Watch, River Run, Balios, Tree Frog and Salmon in Reeds. Here’s a photo of the Hare.
Most of the activities in the Gardens are held outdoors hence its all very weather dependent. We were lucky that it was a fabulous day when we went..when we say fabulous…it actually means no rain or sun..just overcast skies. Hence we were lucky to have done quite a bit of walk around the garden admiring the landscape, lake and budding flowers. We were also lucky to spot some hidden fairies along the way. Oh and here’s one of them..this is ‘Wishes’ Fairy, each of the Fairy has a name such as Titania, Spring, Spidy, Tree Crawler, Poser, Bridget, Swing, Tranquil, Glance, Helper, Shaky, Dip, Dandelion and Swoosh.
We headed off to do our first activity at the willow weaving workshop, here visitors get the chance to create natural gifts to take home thanks to the resident willow weavers. You don’t need to be an expert, we saw people from all ages from young kids to older grandparents trying their hand at making some interesting items.
Here’s one of the guest, trying to weave a basket. It does take a lot of patience but seemed like a great activity to take part in if you had an hour or so to spare.
Next we headed to the Rivers of Grass to meet John the Caricaturist who was ready to sketch a portrait of both our kids. There was not much of a wait, and kids had to sit still for about 10 minutes (if you are a parent, then you know how hard it is to get kids to sit still). But both of them did well and we came home with a lovely souvenir of them.
As we were walking around, we spotted the Sensory Gardens, it was brightly coloured to stimulate the senses. We went around smelling the flowers and plants but could not get much smell out of it, perhaps it would have been better in the spring / summer time. But there was definitely lots to see here.
Children, could walk around the garden and get their senses stimulated. Ours enjoyed running around and stopping at each items that attracted them visually, touching and feeling it as they went along.
As we walked along, we spotted the big children’s play area and our kids immediately ran towards it. Seeing that it was a dry enough day, they got the chance to play with almost all the play equipment there from the slide, climbing walls, swing and sandpit.
The barefoot walk was the only thing they did not do, as we felt it was too cold for that. We could see the happiness on their faces just having a jolly good time! They loved it there.
For parents, it offered a bit of relaxation for them to sit back and watch their kids play at the park and it also breaks the monotony of the walk as well.
Soon it was lunch time, hence we stopped off for a quick meal at their Italian Garden Tearoom (we will share our review of the cafe soon) and next decided to head off to take the minature train ride. As we walked over to board the train we spotted ‘Dandelion’. The fairies were everywhere..on trees, on rooftops, on benches as well as hiding behind fences..hence keep your eyes open.
Have a look at the video slideshow (at the top of our post) to see a short video of the train. We were worried when we first saw the size of the train, but the train ride was so fun! We took the return train ride and our kids loved it so much they wanted to go on it again. On the ride, we got to see a little bit of the lake and they also spotted another fairy along the way.
There are plenty of things to do at the Gardens, here are just some of them:
- Take a walk, kids can also bring their bikes or scooters with them
- Find the Fairies – Take the trail to look for all 15 fairies located around their beautiful mile-long lake, and through the woodland, maze and gardens where the Fairies at Trentham live. Take the miniature train ride £2 (cheaper for annual ticket holders)
- Take a boat trip on Miss Elizabeth which only costs you £2 (cheaper for annual ticket holders). This ride was closed when we were there hence no photos of the boat.
- Head to the outdoor Adventure Playground, kids would love this
- Take a walk up to the Italian Garden and enjoy the arhitec
- Try to spot some some wildlife as you go around for a walk, there is a range of badgers, voles, mice, shrews, hares, foxes, stoats, weasels and hedgehogs, deers and birds amongst others
- Walk your Dog (Remember to always clean up after you dog, keep your dog on a short lead, keep your dog out of the children’s play area, barefoot walk and Capability Centre)
- Go Shopping – There are lots of great shops at the Shopping Village and some offer great bargains
- Meal Out with the Family – There are lots of nice restaurants around the Trentham Estate serving good food and drinks, so forget about cooking and spend the whole day out
- Join the Fishing Club
- Head to the Maze to play hike and seek
- Enjoy the Barefoot Walk (best during the Summer)
What we loved about the place?
We loved getting up close and personal with nature. There were a lot of outdoor style activities for us to participate in and the kids loved it. We saw a lot of families doing fun things together…there were families walking their dogs, some kids were on their scooters and other on their bikes. We also spotted some couples sitting on the garden, having a romantic picnic together while others just enjoying an ice-cream at the cafe. Trentham Gardens just feels like a good place to spend some quality time with the family no matter your age. Its so wonderful to be able to appreciate all nature has to offer!
What we did not like?
The admission cost would be our main concern, but we went on Mother’s Day hence Mothers go free with a full paying adults, so making use of discounts such as this as it is so worthwhile! That being said we did spend a whole day there with all activities such as the basket weaving and caricature fee already included into the ticket cost (except for the train / boat rides). So it is money well spent! If you ask us, we are now tempted to purchase a family annual ticket as there is so much to do there and we want to go back for some more.
One of the main attractions of the Trentham Gardens is their Italian Garden, its designed to provide an interesting landscape of vegetation / plants through out the year. It was quite green when we headed there as I guess its still winter. I can’t imagine how beautiful it will look like in Spring time when the flowers start flowering. Did you know that there are 80,000 perennials planted in the Italian Garden in over 400 different varieties and in 70 flower beds? Wow! That sure is a lot of work for their in house team of gardeners headed by Michael Walker.
What are their opening times?
The Opening hours for the Main North Entrance is from 9am until 6pm (Exit by 7pm) and this is from 26 March until 22 April. Do check their website for updated timings.
How much is the Entrance Fee and is there an Annual Pass ?
Adults pay £9 while Children (aged 5 to 15) pay £8. They also do offer Family Tickets priced around £35. Speak to one of the staff at the Admission Desk and they will be happy to help you select the cheapest option for you. Do note that kids under 5 go free and there are also concession tickets available. If you ask us, its cheaper to get a Annual Family Ticket which would only cost you £122 (for 2 adults and up to 3 kids) as this would give you the option to frequent the place as many times as you like in the year and the ticket also gives you discounts to the shops and selected food outlets too. There is just so much to do and the garden is huge!
The Admission prices are just too expensive, how can I get a discount to Trentham’s Gardens?
Yes there are ways in which you can obtain cheaper / discounted tickets through out the year, do visit their website to find out how.
If you love shopping…like us then you would definitely love what’s located in the Shopping Village. There are over 77 timber lodges housing some amazing range of shops and cafe here ranging from arts and ceramic shops, health and beauty shops, homeware shops, gardening products, leisure related items on sale, snack / restaurants, hobby and craft shops as well as gift shops too.
The atmosphere of the place is just wonderful, people of all ages heading there to get a present or just window shopping in the area. The Gardens and Shopping Village is all on one level hence it provides easy access for those with wheelchairs. If you do need a wheelchair while you are there, do head to the Gardens Entrance to get yourself one (in exchange for a deposit of car / house keys).
As we mentioned, we love shopping so we did not come out empty handed and did make the best of the ongoing sale while we were there.
Is Trentham Gardens A Dog Friendly Place?
Yes it is, feel free to bring your do to the Gardens, but please remember not everyone loves dogs. Here are some of the rules to follow in you do bring your dog to the gardens:
- Clean up after you dog – it doesn’t take long and there are lots of bins on the Estate.
- Keep your dog on a short lead at all times, they do not allow dogs off leads on the Estate.
- Try to avoid letting your dog urinate on benches and bins where possible.
- Keep dogs out of the children’s play area, barefoot walk and Capability Centre.
Where is Trentham Gardens?
Trentham Estate, Stone Road, Trentham
Stoke On Trent
You may also want to read this: Rode Hall and Gardens Review
* We were given free entry tickets to the Trentham Garden in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own.