There was actually much more to see than I expected ...
On the approach to the garden there are hazel catkins and witch-hazel flowers to be seen, and inside the walled garden the palms were surviving well - I'd expected them to be wrapped in plastic or something to keep them warm, so was pleasantly pleased to be able to inspect their strange 'furry' looking trunks.
Behind them in the flower beds are wallflowers ready to brighten this area of garden when spring arrives.
I'd hoped we might see some really early snowdrops (we didn't) but wasn't expecting to see calendulas still flowering alongside a south-facing wall.
The old orangery did have flowers - though I'm not sure what they were - and a profusion of other hot-house plants.
Empty vegetable beds helped show off the rather lovely woven bed-edging at one end of the kitchen garden, while at the other scarecrows were hard at work keeping birds away from quite a variety of over-wintering crops - brussels sprouts, celeriac, winter salad and, I think, globe artichokes. These last are a new veg for me but they certainly look attractive in a winter garden.
Calke is always a good place to spot the odd and quirky, old and weathered, often looking like a weird still life painting -
'ivy growing up a leaning door with milk churn'
'rusted pipe'- detail
'the door that time forgot'
'nature reclaiming a wall'
and 'farm still-life with roller'
In winter these seem at their best, with a muted palette echoing the sky
and no distraction from bright, energetic flowers.
It was a chilly but pleasant day.
A spot of stillness and quiet (despite some small, energetic visitors) in a hectic time. And something I'd certainly try again. While they're in 'winter' mode, dogs are allowed in on leads, so Dylan the dog might like to explore them too.