The Hardwick orchards
Hardwick’s orchards are full of various types of fruit from pear to greengage and damson, all of which play a part in the annual blossom display. These are complement by some wonderful local varieties. The two most local varieties are Newton Wonder which was developed in Melbourne, Derbyshire and Bramley Seedling which was developed by Mary Ann Brailsford in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
Hardwick boasts two, very different, orchards; the ornamental orchard and the fruiting orchard. The ornamental orchard is home to crab apple trees as well as a few Duke of Devonshire apple trees and an ancient Norfolk beefing, which is the oldest fruit tree in the garden. These rouge fruit trees are left over from the time when the ornamental orchard was the fruiting orchard. Until 1865 Hardwick had its own brewhouse in the Stableyard (now a luxury holiday cottage) so there has always been a requirement for the Hardwick gardens to produce fruit.
The fruiting orchard was previously a kitchen garden providing vegetables for the family at the House. The very productive garden was mixed with cut flower borders providing beauty for the House as well as vegetables. This tradition is continued today with the stunning dahlias border which blooms late into September. The reason for this late blooming is a Hardwick tradition of “pinching out” any buds that appear prior to 1 August. This not only delays flowering but also produces more robust plants.
The best time to visit the fruiting orchard is in May as the blossom comes in to bloom. The ornamental orchard is best in September and October as the golden leaves fall leaving the bright maroon crab apples glowing in the trees.