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12 things to expect from the National Trust this year

by | 12 Apr 24 | Garden Design, Long Reads

The Octavia Hill Garden

From appearing on TV shows to creating new outdoor spaces to exhibiting on Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the National Trust has a busy year for its gardens and parklands. Here are just 12 of its plans announced for 2024.


A show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Prolific garden designer Ann-Marie Powell has created a garden inspired by one of the National Trust’s founders, Octavia Hill (1838-1912), who sought to improve urban housing and protect green space. Working with the team at Blue Diamond, a garden centre chain which the National Trust has an ongoing partnership with, Powell has designed a series of ‘outdoor sitting rooms’, inspired by Hill’s own approach. With a focus on making it accessible to as many people as possible and on keeping its carbon footprint low, The Octavia Hill Garden will be built by The Landscaping Consultants and will be on display at the world-famous show in May before being rebuilt at Blue Diamond-owned Bridgemere Show Gardens in Cheshire.


Latest phase of Beningbrough masterplan to open

A Mediterranean garden will open at Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire this summer. It is the latest and biggest phase of the overall masterplan, designed by multi-award-winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon, to revitalise the eight-acre site. Created with climate resilience in mind, the garden will feature new planting, water features, seating and paths to encourage people to explore the space and take away their own ideas for futureproofing their gardens. Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands for the National Trust, says it is a “very exciting space” with “secret corners” and ideas for how outdoor spaces can “better tolerate” weather extremes.


Expanding the rose garden at Anglesey Abbey

From this summer, the National Trust will extend its rose garden at Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill in Cambridgeshire, adding 20 rose beds to the existing 41. The garden was one of Lord Fairhaven’s first garden projects when he bought the estate in the 1920s and it now showcases a display for 40 rose cultivars.


Recreating a parterre at Dyrham Park

The garden and outdoors team at Dyrham Park near Bath are adding a parterre to link the house entrance with the formal borders, reflecting the formal Baroque garden that existed there in the 17th century before it reverted back to parkland. Due to be completed in May, the parterre will feature pots of white, lily-flowered ‘Dyrham Park’ tulips, which have been named and launched by Blue Diamond Garden Centres as part of its licensing collaboration with the National Trust.


Marking five decades of Mottisfont’s rose garden

Home to the National Collection of Pre-1900 Shrub Roses, the walled garden at Mottisfont in Hampshire is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, having been created by Graham Stuart Thomas in the 1970s. Some of the roses featured in the walled garden are centuries old, underplanted with huge borders of perennials to extend the flowering season of the garden. Open hours will be extended on certain days for visitors to explore the garden for longer.


Kitchen and walled gardens to be showcased on the small screen

The kitchen and walled gardens at three National Trust locations will play host to a new 10-part series, Ainsley’s National Trust Cook Off, on ITV1. Seasonal ingredients from Blickling Estate in Norfolk, Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire and Tyntesfield in Somerset will be used by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and other renowned chefs to produce fresh dishes in each episode. The first episode airs on Saturday 18 May.


Completion of five-year project at Runnymede and Ankerwycke

A five-year programme of work called Runnymede Explored, which has been sensitively transforming the site at Runnymede and Ankerwycke, will come to a close. The National Trust will be celebrating the completion over 14-16 June, or Magna Carta weekend, as the open landscape of Runnymede and Ankerwycke beside the Thames was witness to King John’s historic sealing of the Magna Carta over 800 years ago. The £3.8m project includes the addition of a viewing platform across the river at Ankerwycke where people can see the historic 2,500-year-old Yew.


Conservation of Corfe Castle

Dorset’s Corfe Castle is undergoing a three-year, £2m conservation and preservation project until the end of 2025. Having been left a ruin in the 17th century, the Grade I listed monument has become a distinctive feature in the landscape, but hotter summers and heavier rain have seen damage to the ruins accelerate. So, mortar will be replaced where possible, vegetation will be removed and the exposed wall tops will be protected using ‘soft capping’ – in other words, grass will cover the exposed areas to protect it from heat and rain.


First winners of the Time + Space Award

Applications close shortly (30 April) for the National Trust’s first Time + Space Award for young people, which encourages those aged between 16 and 25 to come up with a ‘big idea’ in one of four areas, including Society and Nature & Climate. Inspired by Isaac Newton’s annus mirabilis – or ‘year of wonders’, which happened when he was aged 23 – the new award will provide time, space and resources to explore these ideas. Applications will be based on answering a big question in one of the four themes. Community gardener Tayshan Hayden-Smith has set the Society question: ‘What’s your big idea that would change society for the better, for everyone?’ The Nature & Climate question, set by scientist Megan McCubbin, is: ‘Nature and climate are in crisis. How can your big idea save them and help us break out of the echo chamber?’ McCubbin comments: “Young people have the power to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency. This is a great platform to explore how.”


Celebrating influential female designers

It won’t be published until next February, but the National Trust has announced a new book that will take a closer look at the women whose creativity it says has shaped its collections and visitor experiences. ‘Women Artists & Designers of the National Trust’ by Rachel Conroy will span six centuries, including Vita Sackville-West and the gardens she created at Sissinghurst.


Rhododendrons to take centre stage in Monograph study event

The National Trust’s annual Monograph – an invite-only study event for horticulturists to learn more about a particular plant genus – will this year focus on rhododendrons, with the event being held at Bodnant Garden in Colwyn Bay. Visitors won’t miss out entirely, though, as around 30 rhododendron trusses will be on display in a marquee from 6-10 May.


Return of ‘Hidden Treasures of the National Trust’

A second series of the BBC Two programme returns this year to reveal more of the stories behind the National Trust and its properties, after pulling in nearly two million people per episode for series one. Not much has been given away as to what this year’s episodes will cover, but the National Trust’s curatorial and conservation director, Tarnya Cooper, says: “Looking after such diverse objects and places takes dedicated teams of people as well as expert conservators, and we hope BBC viewers will enjoy learning more about them and their work on wonderful collections.”

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