Spring and woodland flowers at Calke Abbey

Wisteria in the gardens at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

We all need to reconnect with nature this spring, so we've found some of the best spots to see spring colour blossoming all around the estate, from the early crocus to breath-taking blossom.

Bright highlights in the gardens

The gardens are a delight in spring, home to an array of fragrant flowers – most notably the stunning display on the auricula theatre. A rare survival of nineteenth-century display gardening, the theatre was originally designed to show off prize specimen auriculas and to preserve the blooms for longer.

May is the perfect time to see the auriculas on the theatre. Later in the season, the theatre is adorned with a summery display of pelargoniums. 

In the rest of the gardens, look out for the wonderful wisteria in Central Yard in late spring, and a medley of wallflowers and roses in the borders. There are plenty of deckchairs around the gardens where you can sit back and take it all in – it’ll do wonders for your wellbeing. 

Blossom together

The arrival of blossom is one of the most delightful moments in spring, and there are plenty of places to find these pretty flowers at Calke. Early spring sees the peach blossom flowering in the Peach House in the walled kitchen garden, followed by plum and apple blossom later in the season. 

Around the wider estate, look out for wild cherry, blackthorn and hawthorn blossom at this time of year. Take a moment to breathe in the scent and reflect on the springtime to come. 

Nectarine blossom in the glass houses at Calke
Nectarine blossom in the glass houses at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Nectarine blossom in the glass houses at Calke

Meadows and wildflowers

With over 600 acres of parkland, there are plenty of hay and wildflower meadows at Calke, many of which are grazed by the flock of rare-breed Portland sheep. Among an abundance of wildflowers are yellow rattle, bee orchids and common twayblade – but a real treat this season is the cowslip meadow in the Pleasure Grounds.

The Pleasure Grounds surround the house and garden and can be accessed as part of the outdoor admission fee. Follow the paths through the grounds for a gentle stroll among these pretty flowers. 

A carpet of cowslips covers the Pleasure Grounds in spring
Cowslips in the Pleasure Grounds | National Trust Calke Abbey | Derbyshire
A carpet of cowslips covers the Pleasure Grounds in spring

It's bluebell season

Wherever you go at Calke this spring, you're bound to stumble across a breath-taking carpet of bluebells. One of the best displays is in Serpentine Wood – take a relaxing stroll through the trees and discover a sea of blue blooms. Download the bluebell walk using the link below. 

If you’re visiting Calke Explore, follow the winding path through the woods to find another spread of untouched bluebells. It’s a magical experience. 

Please help us to look after this protected species by keeping to the paths, and make sure dogs are kept on leads. Did you know that half of the world’s bluebells are found in the UK? Thank you for helping us to conserve this important part of our heritage.  

Bluebells in Serpentine Wood at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Bluebell walk at Calke Abbey

A short spring walk at Calke Abbey through Serpentine Wood, where you'll discover a magical carpet of bluebells.

Orchids of the Limeyards

June is the perfect time of year to take a longer walk to Calke's fascinating Limeyards to see the orchids in bloom. With hundreds of orchids blooming in spring, it's also a haven for wildlife.

The Limeyards have a rich industrial history, and you can still see the remains of this once-industrious part of the Calke Estate. 

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the Limeyards are carefully managed by the ranger team at Calke. The estate's Hebridean sheep are used to graze the area in autumn time, then after cutting the area, a team of volunteers helps to rake up and remove cuttings away from the site.

Turn off your phone and tune in to nature this spring. When you come to recharge and reconnect, it helps us look after these green spaces for years to come. Thank you.

Summer is the perfect time to see orchids growing in Calke's parkland
Orchids at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Summer is the perfect time to see orchids growing in Calke's parkland