There’s more to Springfields than the shops...

Cascading water pyramid
Cascading water pyramid
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

After years of nipping into Springfields Outlet Centre to rummage through the M&S bargain corner or lovingly stroke the leather Radley handbags, it dawned on me that I rarely take the opportunity to explore the gardens.

The car parks were full and the shops were busy

I rectified this a few weeks ago when a glorious Sunday morning dawned and I was wondering where to take my aunt, who needs a wheelchair to get about.

It seemed I wasn’t the only one to have had that idea; the car parks were full and the shops were busy. Thankfully, in the gardens, a sense of peace reigned. Visitors were relaxing in deck chairs and families were loving the land train, miniature railway and Jurassic Golf.

It was in 2004 that the showcase gardens were created, with celebrities such as Kim Wilde and Charlie Dimmock creating their own Chelsea-style spaces. A decade later it was interesting to see how the plants have matured and pick our favourites. I don’t think I had ever read the story of Momotaro which influenced the Sansui Design Japanese gardens. The story of the little peach boy is reflected in the eight scenes, though the peach itself doesn’t seem to have lasted the course.

The wheelchair was pushed up the incline which forms part of ‘Find your own desire line’ by Stephen Woodhams: this was a great place to take stock and view the vivid lime and pink blocks which form the Sculpture Matrix by Chris Beardshaw.

My favourite part? The steel sculptures by Stephen Newby. There are two of his installations in the gardens: the Kaleidoscope Wheel and the Cascading Water Pyramid. Both feature blown steel, a process which changes the static, industrial material into one which seems to have lightness and softness. In the sunshine, the mirrored pillows of steel looked dazzling.

I’ve seen some inflated steel before, but only in art galleries when the work created by American artist Jeff Koons is exhibited. His vibrant cartoon animals made of blown steel now sell for millions.

Stephen Newby’s creations aren’t fetching those figures at the moment but his work features in towns and cities across the UK. Last year his piece, Halo, was unveiled in Gateshead and is the biggest of its kind in the world.

I hear that Springfields is due to have another of Newby’s works in the gardens in the near future. Another good reason for venturing into Springfields Festival Gardens rather than doing a U-turn at the end of the shops.

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at


Taking a walk on the Meridian line