Hardwick gardens - a plentiful paradise

Hardwick Hall viewed from the herb garden

Summer is a colourful and fragrant time in Hardwick's historic gardens. Our team of gardeners have been working hard to bring on the tasty produce, used daily in the restaurant, and they make the perfect place for a bit of calm.

Visitors soak up the colour and scent of the herb garden in the summer
Visitors in the Herb Garden at Hardwick
Visitors soak up the colour and scent of the herb garden in the summer

Colour and fragrance

Enjoy a wander through the Herb Garden and take in the fragrances as they intensify with heat and rainfall - but hopefully not too much rain! The Herb Garden becomes a destination for bees from miles around; nectar abounds with every conceivable culinary and medicinal taste available.

The restaurant chef takes his share of fresh mint, rosemary, horseradish, thyme, and nasturtium flowers for summer specials too. You may even meet him in the garden, as he selects ingredients for his next recipe.

Vibrant dahlias replace tulips in the Orchard flower borders. Perennials and annuals are spurred on in the warmth to provide colour in the gardens and cut flowers for the Hall, Holiday Cottages and restaurant, until the autumn.

Fruit and vegetables ripening

Damsons, plum and greengage ripen to feed wasps and hornets, later butterflies. They’ll be carefully picked and for sale in the shop.  Blossoms of apples, pears and crab apples surviving any late spring frosts and long periods of dry weather follow the neighbouring stone fruits, which are swelling and ripening into early autumn.

Beetroot for chocolate cake, early potatoes and tomatoes in salads, sweetcorn for summer BBQ’s, runner beans and dwarf beans, table marrows and courgettes, and cucumbers from the greenhouse are all grown and freshly picked by Hardwick gardeners for the restaurant too. The garden and catering team have certainly chosen their plants carefully for taste this year. You'll also find peas, chillies and aubergines ripening, and the pumpkins and squash coming along nicely for harvesting towards the end of the summer and early autumn.

There will be lots of opportunities throughout the summer to have a taste of the produce grown here. If you happen to have a chat with one of the gardeners you might be offered a tasty treat straight off the plant along with some handy tips to take home. 

Relax and enjoy the summer gardens

Take time to relax in one of the deckchairs on the south lawn. Why not bring a book and stay for the afternoon? Or enjoy the longer summer days with a picnic on the lawn, surrounded by the rose’s delicate fragrance and soft pastel colours decorating the borders. Duchess Evelyn’s hybrid musk roses, flanked by yew buttresses, flower repeatedly in the East Court from mid -June to November.  

The West Court borders, viewed from the Gatehouse, frame the Hall with fresh, vibrant colours, deepening and warming as they approach the Hall, then intensifying as we move into autumn. Close clipped, striped lawns provide a cooler and central platform to sit and take it all in.

Rambling roses in Hardwick garden
Rambling roses in Hardwick garden
Rambling roses in Hardwick garden

Garden wildlife

Swallows, first seen in spring, nest amongst the stonework away from indigenous song birds in their hedges, trees and tree boxes. Spot them as they dart across the South Court and East Courts.

If you’re coming to one of the summer cinema nights this August, you may also see the bats fly from buildings and hollows in the tall tree canopies that surround the gardens in early evening, taking moths and insects above the long wild grasses in the Ornamental Orchard and Nuttery.

Pipistrelle bats roost in holes in old trees and feed at night
A bat flying towards a branch
Pipistrelle bats roost in holes in old trees and feed at night