The Gardens at Chatsworth - a Visual Tour.

In my last post I covered some of the history of Chatsworth and the interiors you'll see on a tour but I have so many lovely pictures of the extensive gardens that it makes sense to cover some them separately. Indeed the gardens are an attraction in their own right and many of the 300,000 people  who visit the gardens annually don't visit the house. below is the view from the house over the south lawn.
In addition to the formal Italian elements and the beautiful water cascade in the opening picture above, the gardens include a maze, extensive woods, parklands, ruins, romantic rock gardens and an arboretum as well as a more recently added cottage garden which  to me seems strangely out of keeping with the sheer grandeur of the place. 
Developed over generations, the gardens at Chatsworth illustrate different  tastes over time from the formal to the romantic. Given the size of the gardens  at 105 acres and the extensive amount of work required I wasn't surprised to read that they have over 20 full time gardeners. Here you can see a number of them hard at work tackling the summer weeds.
At the same time that the house was being rebuilt  in the classical style, 1684-1707, the Elizabethan garden was being reimagined too. The classical sculpture and stunning water cascade was designed around a hillside built to provide the pressure to run the fountains surrounding the house. At the top, Thomas Archer (architect of the house) designed a charming Temple or Cascade  House completed in 1703 and seen below.
From here the cascade flows down the  hillside in a series of   twenty-four steps and mini falls. Each has a different carving in the stone and the water makes a different sound as it  crossed  them in turn.
Also part of this original, classically inspired garden are multiple statues and  the delightful hot house below, fronted with rose gardens and incorporating classical columns.
By the mid-Eighteenth Century (1755-1764) the fashion in gardens was moving towards the naturalistic and as in so many great English country houses the landscape architect Capability Brown (surely one of the greatest names of all time?!!) was commissioned to create the grand parkland landscape we have come to think of as the natural habitat for the great houses. 
In the mid-Nineteenth Century the romantic rock gardens and grottos  were added along with an arboretum and pinetum. The scale of the rockeries at Chatsworth are in a class of their own as you can see below. This isn't the suburban rockery of many a Victorian British home!
 I also loved the layered and lacy bamboo forest which dates from the same period along with the dramatic ravine and Azalea dell.
In addition to the formal gardens there are extensive and more recently developed kitchen and cutting gardens as well as vegetables and flowers grown under glass both in cold frames and countless green houses. I particularly loved this view from the vegetable garden.

A series of wood, glass and brick Victorian green house run from just behind the house up the hill towards the stables.
Also in this area was a beautiful laburnum arch which I would love to return to see at its peak...
The joy of visiting Chatsworth is that you can walk in the parkland or indeed over the entire estate, visit the formal gardens and the house. In many ways there is far too much to explore here in to restrict yourself to a single day and having visited I look forward to returning.
In  the house and  the gardens  you get a sense for the changes that came with different styles as well as the  fortunes of the Cavendish family.
This is a grand garden landscape on a giant scale with an emphasis on line and form rather than flowers. 
As we came to the end of our visit I was struck by the diversity of the gardens that cover over 500 years of cultivation. As you climb the hill to the north of the house you get stunning views of the estate and while there are lots of formal views of a landscape punctuated with fountains and classical sculpture, I was particularly taken by this romantic, rather pastoral vista.
Hope you've enjoyed the tour and that it has encouraged you to visit the Peak District and to think of Chatsworth as more than just a house.