Summer at Calke Abbey

 Visitors in the garden in summer at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

By early summer our traditional hay meadows, unspoilt by modern pesticides or fertilisers, are home to over 60 species of flowering plants. Mown pathways allow you to wander through the meadows and admire the flowers without causing any damage.

Wander through wildflowers

The wildflowers are alive with insects at this time, feeding on nectar or laying eggs. You’ll see ladybirds, bees and hoverflies.
 
Damselflies such as azure, common blue and blue-tailed, butterflies such as meadow brown, ringlet, and common blue and day-flying moths such as silver y, chimney sweeper, cinnabar and six-spot burnet fill the air and flutter by.
 
 

Go bird watching

Summer is a good time to spot woodland birds, with our veteran trees providing perfect sites for hole-nesting species.
 
Look out for nuthatch, treecreeper, all three types of woodpecker, little owls and spotted flycatcher, as they’re busy flying backwards and forwards with food for their young.
 
 

By the water's edge

The chain of ponds with their marginal vegetation provide perfect habitat for damselflies and dragonflies and a hot day in summer will is perfect to observe these fascinating insects.
 
A particularly good area is the new conservation wetland where you can walk over the boardwalk and get really good views of dragonflies laying their eggs in the shallows.
 
 

Spot summer fungi

Late summer sees the fruiting of some common but spectacular fungi, including the bright yellow chicken of the woods and the dark red beefsteak, two bracket fungi found commonly on old oak trees.
 
Another late summer fruiting bracket is the internationally rare oak polypore – Calke is one of the few sites where this is found, thanks to our ancient oaks.
 
The grasslands will be littered with the umbrella-like parasol mushrooms, which can grow to the size of a dinner plate and look spectacular.
 
Remember, though, as Calke is a National Nature Reserve, we ask you not to pick the fungi but to leave them for others to enjoy.