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20 years of glorious displays

6 Aug 2020

Millennium Garden celebrates 20 spellbinding years

Our Millennium Garden is many things: breathtaking, meditative, wild, creative and, as of Saturday 8th August, it’s 20 years old!

Designed by world-famous Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, this showstopping garden is one of the finest showcases of his influential work, making it one of the region’s most secret horticultural gems.

The Millennium Garden and its colourful display in the summer months

Originally planted just before the turn of the Millennium, August 2020 marks 20 years since the Millennium Garden officially opened to the public. It was the first public UK space to be designed by a then emerging Oudolf, still relatively unknown in the country at that time.Whilst Oudolf may be better known for his work at sites such as RHS Wisley and Scampston Hall, the Millennium Garden is his only original garden to have been revisited, redesigned and replanted a decade later (2010), by which point he was recognised as one of the world’s most eminent landscape designers.

Piet Oudolf, one of the world’s most eminent landscape designers

Such is the garden’s magnetism it is responsible for tempting Pensthorpe’s head gardener Jonathan Pearce, formerly of Cornwall’s Eden Project, to Norfolk.

The one-acre garden features over 150 species of perennials, shrubs, grasses and climbers and Oudolf’s romantic and highly influential planting style is characterised by his ability to blend plants to mimic natural landscapes. Great tonal waves of ornamental grasses are punctuated by the colour and structure given by rich, frothy clumps of echinacea, fizzing eupatorium and vibrant salvias. Overall, the effect is a wild, meadow-style landscape which transcends the gap between nature reserve and statement garden.

So outstanding is Oudolf’s architectural touch that colour and texture become a permanent fixture of this unique outdoor space. Seedheads tinged with frost and mist hanging in the lily cove are, arguably, as magical as the garden in full summer bloom.

The Millennium Garden glistening in the winter frosts 

Deb Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park, comments:

“This is a garden that stops you in your tracks. Twenty years on, the real epiphany for garden lovers and novices alike is to find themselves unexpectedly standing immersed in the glorious waves of silvery swaying grasses, burnished golds, and the vivid hot pink of Piet’s spellbinding garden. No wonder Piet’s followers continue to make their annual pilgrimage to Pensthorpe from late July to early September to see this extraordinary vibrant masterpiece at its glorious best.”

Oudolf himself once said ‘The idea is that visitors to Pensthorpe discover the garden as a pleasant surprise’. It is this understated charm which has made it one of East Anglia’s greatest ‘secret’ gardens for the past two decades.



Be sure to see this glorious Norfolk garden in its landmark 20th year – book now 


A virtual preview of the Millennium Garden is available to watch here