"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Calke Abbey and a Rather Splendid Auricula Theatre

I had a day out today with a friend to celebrate (belatedly) her birthday and we decided to visit Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

The National Trust calls it "the unstately home and country estate". Its unrestored stables, abandoned areas, peeling paint and overgrown courtyards tells a story of a period in the twentieth century when many country houses declined and did not survive.

There were lots of wild flowers on the winding path that leads to the house -


Ground Ivy

Cowslips and Dandelions carpeted grass all over the parkland

Lesser Celandines

Blossom in woodland on the way to the Walled Gardens.

The Walled Gardens were built in 1773 and played an important part in the domestic economy of the household. They were expected to provide the house with cut flowers, fruit, vegetables, herbs and honey from bees.

The scent from the wallflowers hit you as you entered the flower garden.

The North-west corner holds an alcove with tiered shelving to display Auriculas and other potted plants. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the gardens today as I just love Auriculas. It may be the last surviving Auricula Theatre in Britain.

Wisteria was coming into leaf.

Fernery in a Greenhouse

Does anyone have any idea of the names of these climbers? - the first one was particularly lovely and smelt delicious - it was attracting quite a few bees!

Last year this bed was full of dahlias - but the notice explains why they are only growing potatoes in this bed for the time being.

Through to the kitchen garden where

beds are being prepared and seeds sewn.

Cerinthe Major - I once had one of these at home - a plant bees just adore

Grape Hyacinths and Snowflakes

Ivy Leafed Toadflax growing in one of the garden walls.

A lovely display of violas in pots on some old steps.

We sat for a while in the orchard just watching bees and butterflies (mainly Orange Tip) and my first Swallows of the year skimming over the trees.

Some of the parkland on our return to the house

and a horsey poster in the stable yard.

You could spend days exploring Calke and its grounds. The house was once home to an eccentric family who stuffed the house full of treasures, there is a church, ice house, grotto, Lime Avenue and Deer Shelter.

Calke Park itself is a wonderful place for wildlife. Its a Site of Special Scientific Interest and was made a National Nature Reserve because of the high quality wood pasture a rare habitat in Europe. There are many ancient trees, many 400 years old, several 700 years old and a few which are believed to be over 1000 years old. The park has a good bird population and is important for fungi and bats. 9 species of bat are found here including the Serotine bat which is rare in the area. Over 350 species of beetle have been recorded and its the tenth best site in Britain for invertebrates. So all in all a great place to visit :)

Thanks J for sharing a really lovely afternoon out.

Its been hectic here this week and I haven't had much chance to look at Blogger. I'm in Oxford tomorrow for a talk on bees (I shall wear my bee socks!) but hopefully I'll catch up on your lovely blogs over the weekend and early next week.


Margaret Adamson said...

What a lovely National Trust property to visit. The gardens are gorgeous. I have never seen an Auricula Theatre so that was lovely to see.what a wonderful fun scarcrow whish I am sure works. Thanks for sharing all the beauty of this garden.

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson Thanks Margaret - I am so glad you enjoyed the post. It really is a wonderful NT place to visit :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Fabulous carpets of dandelion, cowslip and celandine round here too this spring. It's been a yellow one indeed. Soon the buttercups will turn the fields by the Trent yellow

Countryside Tales said...

Looks like a top day out and a lovely place to visit. Loved all the flowers :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon. Saw lots of cowslips today too lining M40 embankments!! Looking forward to buttercups here too - know a few local places where they flourish. I love Spring :)

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much CT :) Glad you enjoyed. One of these days I'll go and explore the parkland.

SeagullSuzie said...

What a great place that is, I love the idea of the trees being so old. Thank you for the tour.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks Suzie. One of the ancient oaks is known as The Old Man of Calke :)

Toffeeapple said...

You have cleared up a mystery for me, I had no idea what Ground Ivy and Ivy Leafed Toadflax looked like but now I do, thank you so much!

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks :) I'll get a better, closer photo for you of Ivy Leafed Toadflax when I next see some :)

amanda peters said...

Now this does look like a really nice place to visit, love all your photos. The tiered shelving to display is stunning, I really like this plant in their terracotta planter and have often thought of doing this on a smaller scale in my garden. I hope you get to go again and do some more exploring.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda. Yes, I love the idea of the auricula too and I think you could easily do something in a garden(on a much smaller scale!). I like auriculas but only have 2 - they are quite expensive.