The kitchen garden and orangery at Calke Abbey
From 1773 until the outbreak of the Second World War this garden produced enough fruit and vegetables for the Harpur-Crewe family with surplus to sell locally at market. Like the rest of Calke this garden fell into decline.
The kitchen garden
The kitchen garden is an imposing four acre walled garden, once a hive of activity for vegetable production. Look closely and you will still find some of the original pear trees dotted here and there.
The garden was also a place for relaxation. Three ornamental circular ponds still survive and in one corner of the garden stands a 19th-century summer house that was a haven for peaceful rest.
Today the walled kitchen garden is used throughout the year. In spring you can visit the Portland sheep and their lambs grazing in the meadow. In summer, the garden is tranformed into a natural play area for children. Why not take a wander through the grassy meadow and pop into the rustic glass houses?
The orangery is one of the oldest surviving garden buildings, dating back to 1777. Located inside the walled kitchen garden it was in a dilapidated state when we began caring for Calke in 1985.
The beautiful glass dome, added in 1836, needed extensive repairs and we completed vital restoration work on the dome in 2003. Flaking paintwork and cracked plaster was left as it was found to reflect the general state of decay that the orangery was found in – much like the rest of Calke.
The orangery is now home to a variety of tropical and sub-tropical plants such as sword fern, pomegranate and heavenly bamboo.
We've set up some deck chairs inside so you can experience the orangery in all its abandoned glory whilst looking out over the pretty walled garden.
The peach houses
Two peach houses once flanked the orangery but now only one remains. We recently reintroduced peaches into the peach house and our new tree has started to produce some healthy fruits this year.
The peach house is also home to a productive nectarine tree as well as a number of agave americana plants with their large and thorny leaves.