Autumn brings it with the mulberry harvest at Chesterfield's Hardwick Hall

Photo courtesy of The National Trust.
Photo courtesy of The National Trust.

The last of the summer days have come and soon the autumn harvest will arrive at Hardwick Hall in Chesterfield.

It's always an exciting time of year for staff and garden volunteers at the 16th Century mansion when the mulberries ripen and harvesting can begin.

A sheet is laid on the ground beneath the tree before long sticks are then used to shake the branches above every few days- then the ripe berries drop for gathering.

This year, Hardwick has had a rich harvest of mulberries with great conditions throughout the summer, in comparison to last year with temperatures too hot for a good crop.

Once the mulberries are collected, they are taken to the site's restaurant.

The fruit is washed and frozen, to be later used to create a seasonal mulberry scone.

“They taste a little like a sweet blackberry, the flavour with a certain tartness works well in a sweet scone," said Keith Newman, head chef at Hardwick Hall.

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Hardwick Hall has two rows of mulberry trees between the new orchard and the perimeter of the South Court, adjacent to the stableyard.

The row of mulberry trees has increased over the years at Hardwick and are relatively new in comparison to the Elizabethan house.

“In 1948, a team of foresters worked in the gardens for four months, grubbing out half the trees in the orchard and mulberry walk, leaving a weeping holly, yew, mulberry and lime," said Nigel Beart, senior gardener at Hardwick Hall.

“We don’t know the age or reason for the existence of this original, much older mulberry tree, but its larger girth gives it away.

“In 1973, black mulberries were planted on the orchard side with bottles underneath each containing money; a full reflection of the coins in current use.

"These time capsules are still there to this day. In 1980-85 further mulberries were planted on the wall side."

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