Pelargoniums on the unique Auricula Theatre at Calke © NT / Gillian Day

Pelargoniums on the unique Auricula Theatre at Calke

What's in bloom?

Calke Abbey gardens are alive with summer colour.

Pelargoniums make a vibrant display in the auricula theatre and the flower borders are busy with blooms.

Wander into the physic garden and relax on a deck chair surrounded by the sights and scents of summer fruits and herbs.

What lies beneath?

Can you guess what these are for?

Can you guess what these are for?

At Calke we are able to harvest rainwater thanks to our underground water tanks.

Previously wasted rainwater is collected by using the drains from the roofs of garden buildings such as the orangery and connecting these to huge water tanks which are buried under the grass by the garden backsheds.

We've managed to really reduce our mains water consumption through this green initiative. What’s more, these tanks are made from 100% recycled plastic and have a capacity of 9, 600 litres.

Best bits of the flower garden

  • Close up of Auriculas at Calke Abbey © NTPL/Stephen Robson

    Auricula theatre

    See a beautiful display in the country's only surviving auricula theatre in April and May.

  • A view of the aviary and show house © Gillian Day

    The aviary

    Although unoccupied now, the aviary was home to a flock of doves in the 1930s.

  • Chusan palms add a tropical feel to the flower garden © Gillian Day

    Chusan palms

    These palms dominate the geometric flower beds and add an exotic flair to the garden.

  • Working hard in the garden © Gillian Day

    The show house

    Once housing heat-loving tropical plants, it now displays ferns that can handle the cold.

Kitchen garden

Like the house the old kitchen garden has remained how it was found.

Yielding more produce than was needed, with the surplus being sold to local traders, the kitchen garden thrived – until the outbreak of the World War II. Just like the house, this garden deteriorated with neglect.

Physic Garden

Scarecrows guard our precious herbs and vegetables

Dating from the 18th-century, this garden was originally created to cultivate medicinal herbs and plants and over 350 herbs were planted. Today, it still provides fresh herbs to the restaurant in the stable block.

The orangery

Flaking paint reflects the years of neglect the orangery suffered

Being the oldest surviving garden building, the orangery has had repairs to combat the neglect of the 20th-century. The cracked plaster and flaking paintwork have been kept to reflect the dereliction of the Calke estate.

Pleasure grounds

Carpet of bluebells in Calke Estate's Serpentine Wood

The informal, and dense, planting of trees and shrubs in the early 19th-century provided a natural screen from the mansion and provided a perfect setting for summer picnics and evening strolls.


The Grotto in the pleasure grounds

The grotto is a typical inclusion of an early 19th-century landscape that adds a sense of fantasy and romanticism to the garden. It also served as a cool retreat during a summer stroll.

Don't miss...

  • The gardeners' tunnel
  • Garden tours and trails
  • The gardeners' bothy
  • Calke's bees