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Things to do in the garden at Calke Abbey

A variety of pumpkins, squashes and gourds on display at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Pumpkins and gourds on the auricula theatre | © National Trust Images/Susan Guy

Discover a vibrant and productive walled garden, look inside the faded glasshouses and explore Calke's fascinating collection of garden buildings.

Autumn in the gardens

Bursting with colour and an abundance of produce, Calke’s gardens are a feast for all the senses in autumn. Take in rich colours and watch the gardens transform throughout the season – so there’s always a reason to return.

Pumpkins galore

Stop by the auricula theatre in October to see a homegrown display of pumpkins and gourds. With colourful varieties of all shapes and sizes, it’s the perfect spot for an autumn photo. Watch them grow throughout September in the Physic Garden, where you'll see giant varieties in the beds and in the autumnal gourd arch.

Central Yard

Dahlias take centre stage, bringing a pop of colour to Central Yard throughout September and early October. Framing the path to the old Gardener’s building, you’ll find a double dahlia border, hosting around 40 different varieties. Stroll along the path, take in the fiery colours, and listen out for the gentle humming of bees and insects – you won’t want to miss this popular highlight.

Image shows a colourful double dahlia border leading up to the Gardener's Bothy
Dahlias in Central Yard | © National Trust/Susan Guy

Harvest in the Orchard

Nestled at the bottom of the Physic Garden is a small productive orchard, which is home to a variety of local and historic apples. Providing the perfect autumnal backdrop, relax on a bench, enjoy the scent that fills the air and admire apples all around, as they begin to ripen from September.

Please try to avoid the temptation of picking them. Once they've been harvested, you'll have the chance to take a few home with you for a small donation. Keep an eye on our social channels to find out when.

Buggy service available over winter

The buggy service will be available daily from November – February from 10.30am – 2.30pm (subject to volunteer availability), providing visitors with mobility needs or wheelchair users access to the house and gardens from the ticket office.

Gardener's buildings and Bothy

To get a real sense of Calke's historic working garden, don't forget to peek inside the Gardener's Bothy, where you'll find a vast collection of garden tools, pots and broken cloches – it's a gardener's heaven.

Calke's garden was once an industrial hub, and the remnants of the historic heating systems can still be seen today in the back sheds and Stove House. You may find that some sheds are closed off during winter – this is so that we can protect areas of the garden from heavy footfall during the wetter months.

Did you know there’s a series of tunnels beneath Calke's garden? One of the tunnels leads to the house from the back sheds under the Pleasure Grounds. It was built so that the gardeners could go about their work without being seen from the house. The tunnel is open for you to explore – but it's quite low, so mind your head!

Download the property map to guide you around the gardens.

A room filled with hanging gardening tools, flower pots and other gardening equipment.
The Gardeners' Bothy at Calke Abbey | © James Dobson

Dogs welcome

Well-behaved dogs are welcome in the garden, so you can explore more of Calke without leaving your four-legged friends out.

Please keep your dog on a short lead, and don’t forget to scoop that poop – it helps us keep Calke’s garden clean for all visitors to enjoy.

A view of the west side of the house and  a glimpse of the Pleasure Grounds through trees on a sunny day at Calke Abbey

Discover more at Calke Abbey

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