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Visiting the garden at Hardwick Hall

Two visitors enjoying the purple flowers in the formal gardens at Hardwick
Visitors enjoying the flowers in the formal gardens at Hardwick | © National Trust Images/David Levenson

Hardwick's historic garden bursts with colour no matter the season and it is the perfect place for a spot of calm. Discover the garden highlights to look out for on your visit.

Summer in the garden

Summer is a colourful and fragrant time in Hardwick's historic gardens. The gardening team have been working hard to bring on the tasty produce used daily in the restaurant, and they make the perfect place to relax.

Every colour imaginable

Working your way along the paths in the West Court you'll pass a spectrum of colour provided by annuals.

Starting from the gatehouse with white flowers, to the deep reds and purples by the house. It was here that the famous Gertrude Jekyll helped influence the planting.

Awaken your senses

At every turn you'll likely find your senses stirred by the palette of summer colour throughout Hardwick's historic gardens; pops from flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs, coupled with the scent of freshly cut grass and tended blooms, and the gentle hum of insects.

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.

Ornamental garden wall and pink roses growing over it in June at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Pink roses growing over an ornamental wall at Hardwick Hall | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

Roses of the East

Duchess Evelyn (the last Lady of Hardwick) helped to create what you see today in the East Court. In the 1950s she introduced shrub roses into the borders, with their muted, pastel shades and delicious scent.

Smell the roses

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.

Herb Garden

Wander through the Herb Garden and take in the fragrances, as the scent intensifies with heat and rainfall. The herb garden becomes a destination for bees from miles around; nectar abounds with every conceivable culinary and medicinal taste available.

The herb garden – one of the finest in the country – grows both culinary and medicinal herbs, which would have been used to help cure or soothe ailments in Bess of Hardwick's time.

Fruit and vegetables ripening

Damsons, plums and greengages ripen to feed wasps and hornets, later butterflies. They’ll be carefully picked and for sale in the shop. Vegetables and herbs are grown and freshly picked for use in the Great Barn restaurant.

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.

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 and East Courts.

Look out for bats in the evening

If you’re coming to one of the summer cinema nights, 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.

Relax in the garden

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 roses’ delicate fragrance and soft pastel colours decorating the borders.

A group of visitors relax on the colourful deckchairs on the South Lawn.
Visitors relax on the deckchairs on the South Lawn | © National Trust Images/Jon Scrimshaw

Ask the team

The garden is cared for and managed by a team of four gardeners, with the help of a trusty team of volunteers. They are keen to share their knowledge, so feel free to ask them a question if you see them.

The East view of Hardwick from the East Court

Discover more at Hardwick

Find out when Hardwick is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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