One part of the gardens I've never fully investigated is the herb garden which is quite strange given my love of both herbs and walled gardens. In contrast to the 16th century Hardwick Hall the current design of the herb garden is fairly recent. The layout was designed by Isabelle van Groeningen in 2004 using a structure created in the mid-1970s.
The National Trust first commissioned Paul Miles in the 1970s to lay out a herb garden. Back then fresh herbs were more the preserve of those seeking to recreate The Good Life. The use of fresh herbs either in cooking or simply as a garden plant had long fallen out of fashion.
When Hardwick Hall was first built for Bess of Hardwick the herb garden would have been important as a source of medicinal and culinary ingredients. Today the garden is planted with over 150 varieties of both common and unusual herbs.
The hops would have been important in Bess' day in order to make weak ale that was safer to drink than than the estate's well water.
Around the edges are flowers which are cut to display in the hall. The last of the year's tulips were still giving a fine show.
At the end of the row are some of the vegetables grown to use in the Stables restaurant. Originally a larger area would have been needed to satisfy the demands of a big household. Bess may have long gone but her presence lives on.
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