Derbyshire Garden Tour

Haddon Hall, Hardwick Hall, Chatsworth, Biddulph Grange, Calke Abbey and Trentham Hall, some of the most historic houses and gardens in the country. These were six of the eight gardens included in the Club’s tour of gardens in Derbyshire and Staffordshire this June.

The gardens span some 400 years of history. Haddon Hall is the oldest building dating back to the C12th. Its gardens were first created in Elizabethan times and fall in terraces down to the river Wye with its old stone bridge. Roses, clematis, irises, poppies delphiniums and geraniums are among the host of flowers that clothe the walls and borders of the terraces.

Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth were gardens first started by Bess of Hardwick in the C16th and developed over the following centuries by the Cavendish family. Although the gardens at Hardwick now date from the C19th they convey the spirit of an Elizabethan garden with colourful borders, orchards, nuttery and herb gardens set in walled courtyards, yew and hornbeam enclosures much as Bess would have known.

Chatsworth is on a different scale. The original C16th and C17th gardens were swept away to be replaced in the C18th by a breathtaking Capability Brown landscape, now enhanced by the spectacular Emperor fountain and canal, the glittering water cascade, huge rock gardens, vast kitchen garden and historic and modern glasshouses. The Great Conservatory, the forerunner of the Crystal Palace was sadly demolished after the First World War but the site has been replaced with a huge yew maze and flanking flower gardens.

Biddulph Grange, created in the mid C19th, is one of the most curious Victorian gardens to survive unchanged. It brought together trees, shrubs and flowers from all over the world to create a series of separate but interconnected gardens representing various themes or countries most notable Chinese and Egyptian gardens and a famous dahlia walk.

Calke Abbey was rescued from near dereliction by the National Trust in 1985 and little has been or is intended to be done to restore the house or gardens other than to preserve them as they were left. In the gardens, only the Orangery has been restored, together with the Flower Garden and Physic Garden. The Flower Garden was created in the mid C19th and includes an historic ‘auricular theatre’ designed to show off prize specimens of auriculas and pelargoniums. The Physic Garden was devoted to the cultivation of medicinal herbs but is now used for vegetable and fruit production.

Trentham Hall was demolished and its Victorian gardens lost following industrial pollution in the C19th. After a £100 million restoration scheme the gardens have been recreated since 2003 within the original Capability Brown landscape. The new Italian Gardens are planted in a contemporary style combining herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. To the east there are two new gardens, the Rivers of Grass, a naturalistic weave of grasses and herbaceous perennials, and the Floral Labyrinth, 30 beds of tall perennial planting, offering up bold colours and wonderful aromas.

Finally the group visited two smaller gardens. Long Close Gardens are set in 5 acres with terraces, pools, herbaceous borders, rare shrubs and mature trees. The wild flower meadows, which have not been cultivated for several hundred years and are now very rare, were in full bloom with orchids and other rare specimens.

Bluebell Arboretum was started only 22 years ago but already has a fine collection of unusual trees and shrubs. We were fortunate to be taken round by the owner, Robert Vernon, whose enthusiasm and knowledge were infectious.

We were also fortunate in having good weather for all five days of our tour and in having Colin Crosbie as an excellent guide once again. His knowledge, good humour and care were greatly appreciated.



2017-06-12 Long Close Gardens1 2017-06-12 Long Close Gardens2

2017-06-12 Long Close Gardens3 2017-06-12 Long Close Gardens4

2017-06-12 Long Close wild orchids 2017-06-12 Long Close weeping ash


2017-06-12 Bluebell Arboretum1 2017-06-12 Bluebell Arboretum2


2017-06-13 Trentham Estate1 2017-06-13 Trentham Estate4 2017-06-13 Trentham Estate2

2017-06-13 Trentham Estate roses 2017-06-13 Trentham Estate3

2017-06-13 Trentham Estate5 2017-06-13 Trentham Estate6


2017-06-13 Biddulph Grange Garden1 2017-06-13 Biddulph Grange Garden2

2017-06-13 Biddulph Grange Garden3 2017-06-13 Biddulph Grange Garden4


2017-06-14 Hardwick Hall1 2017-06-14 Hardwick Hall2

2017-06-14 Hardwick Hall4 2017-06-14 Hardwick Hall3


2017-06-14 Haddon Hall2 2017-06-14 Haddon Hall3

2017-06-14 Haddon Hall4 2017-06-14 Haddon Hall6

2017-06-14 Haddon Hall5 2017-06-14 Haddon Hall1


2017-06-15 Chatsworth1 2017-06-15 Chatsworth2

2017-06-15 Chatsworth3 2017-06-15 Chatsworth5

2017-06-15 Chatsworth4 2017-06-15 Chatsworth6

2017-06-15 Chatsworth peonies 2017-06-15 Chatsworth lupins


2017-06-16 Calke Abbey1 2017-06-16 Calke Abbey2

2017-06-16 Calke Abbey3 2017-06-16 Calke Abbey auricular theatre