RHS Garden Harlow Carr

239 Reviews

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Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

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After weeks without rain the Queen Mother’s Lake looked a bit low but was still feeding its stream and there was more green grass than in Suffolk.

A bus from the centre of Harrogate has a stop close to the entrance, although the website warning not to bring the car because of roadworks proved superfluous. The roadworks had caused a rerouting of the bus, however, so we had a ten minute walk instead of five.

In searing heat the temptation might have been to visit Betty’s tea room first but this, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, is not the Silver Traveller way. Instead, we took a moment to recall the Berlin Garden Exhibition and its amusing pairs of jeans as plant containers. Harlow Carr had one too, and various other comic planters, including one that Marcel Duchamp might have claimed royalties on. Nothing for it then but to pursue the stream towards its source.

On the way there were not only wonderful floral and arboreal displays but also items of interest to children. It’s easy to envy families who live nearby (and there is a new estate being built) who can use RHS membership to treat the garden – as they are invited to – as their local park. The giant wicker man was captivating, with no indication of the dark usage in the cult film. There is also a huge rabbit incorporating a slide and of course the lakeside grass is resource enough for many children. Ducklings were a bonus.

A Korean pine was spectacular, if unexpected, but the various waterside primulas and in several places ferns and gunnera were altogether to be looked for. Glimpses of the stream added movement. Much of the planting is at its best in spring and may not be accustomed to the kind of summer this year has produced. Nonetheless there was plenty of colour to be seem, and the kitchen garden with herbs to complement the vegetables and fruit was really coming into its own. Temptation to pick some peas was strong.

Roses had flowered early yet there was much to appreciate in the scented garden and the grasses surrounding monoliths were splendid. A visit to the glasshouse with the Alpine insect house nearby was very rewarding. So afterwards was a visit to the branch of Betty’s Tea Room. When the parent establishment celebrates its centenary next year it should be a focus of national interest.

Harlow Carr would reward a whole day’s attention but we had family to visit so just one morning had to suffice. There will be other times, including Betty’s centenary.


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