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Harlow Carr


 
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Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 11 Feb 2013
Posts: 2356
Location: Donegal

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:40 am    Post subject: Harlow Carr Reply with quote

It was Holy Thursday when I visited the gardens, just outside Harrogate. It was good to see the place busy: lots of people of my generation (older) and lots of young families. I had wanted to visit this RHS garden for many years, having first heard of it on a Gardeners World programme (in black and white!) in which Geoffrey Smith was showing how to build a proper rockery, so I had high expectations. I have learned that the garden used to be run by the Northern Horticultural Society and was only taken over by the RHS relatively recently. I know from my reading that a lot of work has been put into its development in recent years, including an Education Centre and a big new Visitors Centre and sales area. I gather it is widely used by schools for science outings and projects - my grand daughter (10) was able to tell me a lot about her visit there.

I really enjoyed my visit: it was cold but sunny and a great day for garden visiting. I walked most of the site, though I didn't penetrate the extensive woodlands, merely skirting the edges. It lies in a west to east sloping valley with a beck (Yorkshire stream) running through it - it is famous for the display of primulas along the stream side. Unfortunately I was too early to see these, which was disappointing.

The education centre (a good piece of modern architecture) is near the top of the site and is surrounded by teaching gardens and experimental plots. It is very attractively laid out, but obviously, not much was happening at that time of year. Nearby were some good show gardens, laid out to demonstrate different styles (arts and crafts, 70s patio, modern courtyard etc). I felt this some of this area was a bit dated.
I followed the stream through the valley, looking for the Geof Smith rockery and noticing that a lot of work has been done to clear and restore and replant the stream banks ( see photos). It seems some of the more invasive species had really taken over and consequently the whole stream environment has a raw, new look at present. On the woodland edges there has been a lot of clearing of overgrown rhodies - there are notices explaining what is being done. I bypassed the woodland play area.
Having reached the bottom end of the garden I treated myself to a Betty's ice cream and went to look at the rockeries and alpines. I was disappointed as it all seemed a bit tired. Walking back up the valley towards the visitors centre I passed through lots of interesting gardens, many of recent development. There was a variety of vegetable plots, fruit gardens, flower beds and borders and a couple of really nice ponds. A lot of mulching etc was going on and the place was attracting a good deal of interest as there was tons to see. One thing that struck me was the extensive use of woven willow and other, presumably locally sourced wood, in garden structures. The large alpine house is at the top of the slope above these gardens and contained a very interesting variety of displays. It was surrounded by more, outdoor, displays of alpine planting.
I didn't spend much time in the visitors centre. There is a Betty's cafe, a large bookshop area and a lot of other house-and-garden lifestyle retail. The garden centre has lots of good planters and containers and loads od well grown and well maintained plants, as you'd expect. Staff were plentiful and helpful. I bought some alpines to take home and a houseplant for my son and daughter in law.

I enjoyed my visit. I was probably expecting too much, having wanted to go for so long. And my only other visit to a RHS garden was to Wisley, one June., a very different story from Yorkshire in late March! I suspect that the gardens had suffered from neglect for a good few years before being taken over by the RHS. Certainly they have done - and are doing - Trojan work there and they have a tricky job to do, balancing the requirements of casual day trippers with those of hard-core garden nuts like me! It was good to see the place so busy and lovely to see so many children enjoying it. The emphasis on education will surely pay off in the long run. If anyone is in the area, it's worth the trip.



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Stream side under redevelopment. Note use of woven bank reinforcement. Education centre in background.
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At the lower end of the site, bordering woodland
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Alpine house visible top left, visitors centre top right
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Some of the displays outside the alpine house
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kindredspirit
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 10 Nov 2008
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Location: Mid-west.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like it'll be very good in a couple of years when the new planting will have taken off. A place like that needs a big budget in order to have a big staff roll to keep it right.
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A little garden in Co. Limerick.Some non-gardening photographs.
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tagwex
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Location: Co. Wexford

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your troughs are better looking than those KS.
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Good guy
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 11 Feb 2013
Posts: 2356
Location: Donegal

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KS sets a very high standard indeed. Like I said, the gardens seem to have been going downhill for a good few years and are only now coming back up again. The high standards you'd expect of an RHS site require huge attention to detail over an extended period. Hopefully that's what these garden are now getting, because in their setting and with the "bones" available, they should be a real treasure.
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