Day 20 of my #AdventCalendar for gardeners- a visit to Calke Abbey. 

Mossy roofed potting shed in the walled garden at  the national Trust’s Calke Abbey. There’s a tiny bed in there for the garden boy whose job it was to keep the greenhouse boilers stoked. Alison and I have started a tradition to walk the gardens in the week before Christmas, and reflect on what life was like for the gardeners. Then there’s a food fair in the old riding school where we sample local honey, Leicestershire cheese, home made fudge and chocolates- and we stock up for the festive season. It’s rather a wonderful tradition to have started. 



The walled kitchen garden is looking beautifully tidy. The beds are mulched and weeded.  All set for the spring sowing season. Quite a cheerful sight to behold.


It’s nice to find something new in a favourite- much visited garden. This area was being excavated last time we stopped by.  What treasures  were under the mounds of earth, we wondered.  It looks like a boiler for the hypocaust heated wall. Isn’t it amazing it’s still here. And the beautiful  brick floor is still intact.


We mooched in the peach house. I think this blue paint  is my all-time favourite colour. I’d love to paint my potting shed the same hue. It reminds me of the Mediterranean.




We peered through the misty  peach house  windows. In the summer these open right up. There are deckchairs to sit and gaze at the wild flowers and waist high grass.


View of the peach house /orangery  from the church. We spotted these glorious giant white-painted cloches. And coveted them! 


A few ancient espalier  fruit trees  remain in the walled garden. We love their mossy-covered boughs. 


We hadn’t noticed this door in the walled garden before. In summer there’s so much to see. But in winter,  we notice the bare bones of the garden and home in on  wonderful details like this.

We’ve never seen the sheep grazing right to the house before. We like this seasonal change. The sheep set a scene that could easily grace any Christmas card. We just need some snow to complete the picture. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of Calke Abbey and the kitchen gardens. Do you have a garden that you love to visit as often as you can? Do you find new treasures each time you visit? Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to comment- so I know I’m not just talking to myself. 

38 thoughts on “Day 20 of my #AdventCalendar for gardeners- a visit to Calke Abbey. 

      • Thank you! That’s made me laugh, as there is zero organisation. I basically remember by about lunchtime, whizz through my photos from the past few days, and post one of them, hoping for the best. It’s basically just a snapshot of my daily life. I actually wrote this one standing up in the potting shed whilst making a door wreath and potting white cyclamen in baskets for a clients barn conversion front porch. There’s compost all over the keyboard. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s much appreciated. x

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      • So you’re making a door wreath and potting up cyclamen and thinking back through your photos and updating your blog – all the same time – and you’re not organised? If that’s disorganisation I’d like to take lessons…

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  1. [J] Odd, isn’t it, that it’s these lovely wintry scenes that make me long to go on a tour of the mainland. Summer doesn’t really do it for me. It’s the stately and big-house gardens and parklands that attract me! Thanks for the delights of your post. I especially love the pictures of the doors, and details of the walled garden.

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    • Thank you. I think you are right. In summer we are all just too busy with work and our own gardens, and are distracted by flowers. In winter, there’s time to stop and stare, and take in the bare bones and finer details. I must have visited that garden hundreds of times, and never noticed that garden door before. And then we stand there pondering. How could we have missed such beauty. But maybe that’s the joy of winter walks. Catching sight of something that brings good cheer,just when we need it most.Thanks again for your kind and thoughtful comments. x

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  2. What a delightful seasonal tradition you two have…Great photos ! Wish I could live in the Peach House, with those elegant windows and door…Love the ancient espalier apple, and those enormous cloches are definitely covetable. Would love to visit this garden…such a sense of history and a vibrant sense of the past carrying on with the present. Also in awe of how you’re managing to do your Advent calendar at such a busy time of year…Thanks for sharing…much enjoyed…x

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    • Thanks Jo for your lovely, kind comments. You MUST come next summer. And to NT Stoneywell, and Easton Walled gardens which are all nearby.
      I can entirely reassure you. I am not at all organised 🙂 xxx

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    • Thank you. We were so thrilled to spot that amazing wonky walled garden door and pondered how many gardeners had trooped back and forth through the doorway- and what their lives must have been like. We were so pleased to discover what was under that pile of stones and earth. I wonder how they knew where to dig to find the hidden boiler. Another mystery to uncover, for next time…. 🙂 x

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  3. A really enjoyable, and interesting, post with lovely pictures. I think that Heligan in Cornwall would be the garden I like to visit often.
    And you’re certainly not just talking to yourself as shown by the likes and comments. xx

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    • Thank you Mike. I have only visited Heligan once and it left a lasting impression on me. I’d love to go back one day. Thank you for such kind and encouraging words. It’s made my day! All the very best. Karen x

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      • Thanks Mike. And I’ll look at the blog lists and see where I’ve gone wrong. That must be why I keep messing some. They don’t always show up on my reader and I have to go back and search via the name. Thanks again. As always. Your comments are much appreciated x

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      • Done it, I think. I forgot to put the www. in front of the name. I was following on my Bloglovin page. I’m open to suggestions though, as I don’t really know what I’m doing on here. It’s a miracle anything ever gets posted. xxx

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    • thank you Mike. That’s really kind of you. This is very odd, because your comment just came through on e mails, but not on my blog site. I’ll rootle around again. I keep pressing the follow button and it says I’m following you. But for some reason it’s not listed on my blog. Hm. It’s a mystery. Thanks again for kind comments and offers of help, which are much appreciated. All the best. Karen

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  4. Calke Abbey is not surprisingly a place that we visit fairly regularly and, as you say, it is always good to look out for things that we might have mised before so thank you for sharing your discoveries. They were doing a geophysical survey of some of the parkland one of the more recent times we went – I wonder what they found…? I was going to ask if I might be permitted to tag along on some of your visits but you seem to be building up an entourage already…

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