Hardwick harvest and orchards
Autumn is a great time to discover the gardens at Hardwick. From the changing colour of leaves to the fruit ready for harvest.
The bright colours of autumn are hard to miss amongst the orchards and gardens. The crunch of leaves beneath your feet, the sight of oranges and reds in the trees and the crisper autumn breeze is one to be relished amongst the grounds of Hardwick.
Hardwick is home to two orchards in the South garden, known as the fruiting orchard and the ornamental orchard.
The Fruiting Orchard
Aptly named for the variety of fruiting trees in this orchard including apples, pears and stone fruits such as damsons and plums. Beautiful apple varieties growing at Hardwick include Newton Wonder, Blenheim Orange and Norfolk Beefing. Newton Wonder in particular is a Derbyshire local variety, found as a chance seedling in the 1870s. Within the fruiting orchard, there is also a jargonelle pear tree, one the oldest pears in cultivation, planted at Hardwick around 1924.
The Ornamental Orchard
The ornamental orchard, as its name suggests was not designed as such to bear fruit like the earlier orchard, but instead provide beautiful blossom at spring. However, even at autumn, a stroll through this orchard will not disappoint with sights of Chinese crab apples amongst the branches. In addition, two older trees, planted before these later ornamental additions are the Duke of Devonshire and Norfolk Beefing.
Looking after and eating
During lockdown, the grass has been left to grow long in the orchards, reducing mowing time and fuel use but also encouraging the biodiversity of the area and reducing the impact on the roots. Since reopening the grass has been long, to continue these positive impacts on the area and also give a peaceful welcome to visitors walking through, allowing the breeze to blow through the wispy strands.
At harvest time, our head chef takes this opportunity to use the fruit in the cooking at the Great Barn Restaurant. While damson scones have recently been finished, next on the list are apple and ginger scones.