Michael Walker, head of garden and estate at Stoke-on-Trent’s award-winning Trentham Estate and Gardens, has been appointed to the prestigious role of chairman of the National Trust’s Gardens & Parks Panel.
Mr Walker has secured the position after being a member of the panel for three years and following his professional work at some the UK’s best loved gardens including Harewood House in Leeds, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire and at Trentham since 2004.
The Gardens & Parks Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust and advises on issues relating to the plant collections, the conservation of gardens and parks, and the management and interpretation of those open to the public.
St. Modwen, the UK’s regeneration specialist and owner of Trentham Estate and Gardens, is allowing Mr Walker the time to dedicate to his role at the National Trust, seeing it as an extension of his work at the much loved Staffordshire attraction.
Michael said: “My appointment as chairman of the Garden & Parks Panel is a great honour, and one I could not possibly have envisaged when I first joined the National Trust way back in 1981.
“The Trust is responsible for the largest collection of Gardens and Parks under single ownership in Europe, if not the world, so it is an extremely exciting organisation to be part of.
“With the team at Trentham, we have helped transform the gardens and estate into an acclaimed tourist attraction. Last year Trentham welcomed over three million visitors to the estate, and over half a million through the gates of the garden, which has just been crowned the BBC Countryfile UK Garden of the Year 2014/15.”
Mike Calnan, head of gardens at the National Trust, said: “Michael Walker’s appointment to the prestigious post of chairman of the National Trust’s Gardens Panel is a tribute to his standing as one of the UK’s top horticulturalists and the breadth and depth of his knowledge of historic garden management.
“He brings a wealth of experience, combined with exceptional advisory and leadership qualities which will benefit Trust gardens enormously. We are greatly looking forward to working with Michael in his new role.”
Recently announced figures show that paid-entry visits into Trentham Estate and Gardens rose by nearly 12 per cent for the whole of 2014 to a record breaking total of 480,000, and easily beating the previous record set in 2013, when 430,000 people visited.
Attendances for events staged in the gardens during 2014 not only attracted a further 52,000 visitors, but also meant that for the first time since St. Modwen re-opened the gates to the public in 2004, the footfall into the gardens tipped over the half million mark.
Hailed as one of the UK’s must see gardens by gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh, Trentham Estate and Gardens includes:
A contemporary revival of the famous Italian Gardens by renowned designer and multi-Chelsea Flower Show gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith.Rivers of Grass and the adjacent Floral Labyrinth schemes – designed by eminent Dutch plantsman and Chelsea gold-medal winner, Piet Oudolf.The mile long Trentham Lake designed by Capability Brown. The lakeside walk passes the River Trent, by the bird hide, through Capability Brown’s cascading weir and along atmospheric woodland trails.Show gardens, an adventure playground and a hide and speak maze.