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Two RHS Gardens – Part 2 Harlow Carr

To visit the second of the RHS gardens we visited during 2017 we had to travel north up to Yorkshire and we stayed near Harrogate, a beautiful spa town. This is the RHS garden we probably visit the most as it is our favourite and we love the area it is situated in. We chose to go up in late summer. We particularly enjoy the Winter Garden and the new perennial gardens and as we had already visited to see the Winter Garden so we needed to see the perennials borders too.

The RHS are excellent at giving a warm welcome to its visitors and we certainly felt that at their most northerly garden, beautiful planters, great breakfast at the famous “Betty’s Tearooms” and cheerful plants as we entered the main gardens, including bright, cheerful meadow planting.

A recent children’s competition involving creating miniature gardens in old boots provided some entertainment at the bottom of the main steps into the garden.

Next we will share moments we enjoyed as we made our way towards the educational centre with its new buildings, glasshouse and plantings.

The gardens around the education centre provide a fine example of contemporary plant choice and plant combinations, starring grasses and tall airy perennials, growing beautifully among gravel, a wildlife pond and a contemporary styled vegetable garden alongside. Even the seating has been carefully chosen to look just right. Nothing has been left to chance!


As mentioned at the beginning of this post we were looking forward in particular to wandering around the borders of “new perennial planting” especially as we were visiting when it should be its prime time. So please enjoy this wander with us by following the gallery. Click on the first picture then navigate with the arrows.


When we were finishing our visit to this wonderful RHS garden we made our way back for a final coffee before finding our car and returning to our hotel, and noticed a large and very beautiful insect hotel alongside the path. It was an heartening end to our exploration.

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Two RHS Gardens – Part 1 – Hyde Hall

As members of the RHS we often visit their gardens and their partner gardens. Sadly it is a long journey to get to any of their main gardens so we do not visit as often as we would like. We make an effort to visit at least two each year.

In 2017 the two we selected were Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, two very different gardens, one in the south and one in the north. The first we visited was Hyde Hall which is the furthest away of all their gardens so we have only ever explored it once before. We made this journey in the middle of the summer and were looking forward in particular to seeing how the Dry Garden had developed as this was a new venture when we originally visited this garden. When we journey down to Essex we usually pay a visit to the garden of the great lady of British gardening, Beth Chatto, but this time we did not have time. But we will go to her garden soon when I will post about her incredible garden when we do. For now though we will concentrate on the gardens of Hyde Hall.

It is rarely possible to admire the planting within a car park, but at Hyde Hall the planting was worth looking at and photographing. It was based on new style perennial planting which had such a gentle calming effect on us as we walked from the car to the garden. Grasses and airy perennials were the mainstay of the plantings.


Once inside the gardens themselves, the quality of planting and the brilliant way in which plant partners were grouped were of the highest quality.


Grasses feature strongly at Hyde Hall adding texture to the landscape where grass is cut selectively, but different ornamental cultivars are used for structure and their architectural presence, and in mixed plantings for contrast, movement and for visitors to touch and stroke.


In places we could identify where plants had been chosen to take advantage of the light from the sun, using its brightness to encourage us to see reflection, shimmering light, glossy textures and contrasting patterns. Essex is dry and sunny particularly compared to our Shropshire climate. Using the brightness of the sun and the dryness of the climate to enhance gardens is so clever and not often done well. Hyde Hall is the star in this department.

In my second post about this wonderful RHS garden I shall focus on their famous Dry Garden, but for now I want to explore the way light is used so effectively in some areas. Light can emphasise glossiness of foliage, it can emphasise the interplay of light and shade and it can emphasise texture.


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Autumn at RHS Harlow Carr – Part Three

I am back with my third and final part of my posts featuring the wonderful RHS garden Harlow Carr. In the first post I mentioned a willow trail so here are a few of the pieces we came across on our wanderings.

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Living fences made from willow and hazel featured strongly in the productive gardens and some included seats built in also made of willow. It was seeing these when they were being created at Harlow Carr during the renovation of the kitchen gardens, that gave us the idea of creating our fedge at our allotment community gardens.

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I promised a return to the prairie style borders and my favourite part of late autumn borders, the dried flower heads and seed heads of perennials and grasses. The subtlety of colour and delicate contrasts make for a most pleasing picture.

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We left the perennial borders to follow paths through the stream garden which would give us the chance for a second look at the winter garden. Willow is used along the water’s edge to secure the bankside using a technique known as spiling. Beautiful stone bridges take the path back and forth over the stream.

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So that is Harlow Carr the northern jewel in the RHS’s crown, beautiful whenever you visit with surprises galore alongside old favourites. It won’t be long until be come back again!

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Autumn at RHS Harlow Carr – Part Two

Back at the end of November I posted part one of a series of three posts related to our visit to the RHS’s northern garden Harlow Carr, so this week I shall post the second and third.

Back to Harlow Carr and we carry on with our wander around the acres of lawns, woodland and borders.

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The display gardens showing typical gardens through the ages are different to everything else at Harlow Carr. Here we can always find little interesting details.

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We moved off into the woodlands next where among the autumn colours we discovered a trio of wicker pigs and a newly built wooden shelter. Wood leaf carvings decorated the roof.

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The low light of an October afternoon added a certain magic to the woodland but we enjoyed finding a different sort of magic was provided by a wooden sculpture of a troll guarding his bridge. Every garden needs a little humour!



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The garden threw up sculptural surprises throughout.



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The bright colours of the late flowering half-hardy perennial Salvias can cheer up the dullest of days. An unexpected flower however, unexpected but equally bright, was that of a candelabra Primula.

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At this time of year I love the subdued shades of the dried flowers and seed heads of perennials. In the third part of my Harlow Carr posts we shall find these dominate in the large prairie styled borders.

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One reason for this return to Harlow Carr was to look at the area dedicated to alpines. We had recently been gifted two old buttler’s sinks which we aim to convert into alpine troughs. We were hoping for inspiration. In the alpine house itself it was the various miniature Oxalis which entranced us, but on the paved area outside we found the alpine troughs which inspired us to make something special of our two sinks.



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Before I finish part two of my Harlow Carr posts I thought I would show you these two photos showing two true stars! A generously flowering Aster and a brightly coloured Ladybird in search of a safe winter hibernation spot.

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Autumn at RHS Harlow Carr – Part One

We visit the RHS garden, Harlow Carr situated just outside Harrogate, at least once each year. We do this simply because we love the place whatever time of year and whatever the weather. On our latest visit we wanted to see it in the autumn.

As soon as we arrived we realised there were a few things going on to celebrate the autumn. In the entrance foyer there were clues that a Willow Trail had been set out for children to follow.

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Beautiful pure white stems of Betulas welcomed us into the garden.

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Recent high winds had stripped the leaves off many of the trees so on this visit it looked as if we were not going to be seeing much of the autumnal hues we thought we were going to enjoy. The garden was already showing signs of winter. Long views across the gardens afforded us views of tree skeletons combined with just a few orange leaved shrubs and the deeper greens of the conifers.


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The Winter Garden soon proved itself to be a brilliant place in the autumn too. Berries gave the strongest colours closely followed by the remnant leaves of shrubs.

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The whisps of the ornamental grasses appeared white at first glance but close up we realised they were the subtlest of biscuit shades.

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There were still plenty of surprises to be found including the bright colours of late flowers in the perennial meadows.

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As the days get shorter more and more of these perennials dry to shades of biscuit, ginger and brown.

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This little corner was probably my favourite part of the garden with the slender trees showing off their coloured trunks and the shrubs beneath them displaying brightly coloured stems.

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Although still late autumn when we visited some of the scents of winter were already pervading the air. The pink flowered Viburnums emitted the strongest scent of all.2014 10 31_6868

In part two of our visit to Harlow Carr we will explain what else this exceptional all-season garden had to offer us.