Hardwick harvest and orchards

The orchard at Hardwick in autumn with a view of the house in the distance.

Lady Louisa Edgerton transformed the gardens at Hardwick in the mid nineteenth century. Her south courtyard design remains; characterised and partitioned by wall-like hedges of yew and hornbeam, with accompanying grass walkways. Today within the partitions there are two orchards; the South Orchard or Fruiting Orchard, which contains old varieties of apples, pears, plums, damsons and greengages and the North Orchard or Ornamental Orchard, planted with Chinese crab apples.

Autumn crab apples in the Hardwick Orchard
Autumn crab apples
Autumn crab apples in the Hardwick Orchard

Windfall apples can be picked-up, purchased or tasted in crumbles made by our chef, including varieties such as Newton Wonder, Blenheim Orange and Norfolk Beefing. The latter were once consumed slow-baked, flattened and sugar-dusted in Biffen (Beefing) fairs, and mentioned by Charles Dickens.

Children collecting wind-fall apples in the orchard
Children collecting wind-fall apples in the orchard
Children collecting wind-fall apples in the orchard

Archives record ‘Bess of Hardwick’ discussing herbs, flowers and seeds to be grown in her gardens by her plantsman. Octagonal panels on display in the Hall show the herbs of the day, depicted in needle point by Bess’s ladies in waiting. The conversations continue today, in the large modern herb garden visitors conversing with gardeners, recalling grandparents’ cures and tonics applied ‘straight from the plant’. Perhaps best left there...

Pears growing an orchard in autumn
 A close up of Pears growing amoungst their trees yellowing leaves
Pears growing an orchard in autumn

Vegetable plots and glasshouses, small in size but brimming with tasty supplies of leeks, cabbage, beans, tomatoes of all colours, cucumbers, beetroot (predominantly grated into chocolate cake) and sweetcorn go to The Great Barn restaurant. Explore the garden this autumn and chat to our garden volunteers, as the freely share and swap advice on growing and harvesting.