RHS Harlow Carr Garden

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Harlow Carr Garden is one of four public gardens run by the RHS and is located one and a half miles from the centre of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.  We arrived by car, with ample free parking available.  On a previous visit we walked from the town centre which is a lovely way to arrive on a sunny day.  This walk starts from the town’s Valley Gardens and continues up through the Pine Woods taking approximately 45 minutes to reach Harlow Carr.

 Harlow Carr Garden and Cafe
Harlow Carr Garden and Cafe

The main purpose for establishing this garden was to set up plant trials to assess the suitability of growing certain plants in a northern climate.  Adult admission to the gardens is £11 and as the society is a registered charity all profits are used to maintain and improve the gardens and facilities.  The entrance pavilion is bright and airy with an adjacent gift shop and a branch of Betty’s Tea Rooms which has terrace seating overlooking the gardens.  The helpful staff provided us with a map and pointed out areas of the gardens currently in bloom as we were buying our tickets.

Betty's Cafe, Harlow Carr Garden
Betty’s Cafe, Harlow Carr Garden

The garden covers 26 acres and our stroll began alongside the Queen Mother’s Lake which is landscaped with deep colourful borders and at the water’s edge ornamental grasses and candelabra primula bloomed.  Recent developments have included the building of the Bramall education centre and the Montague-Burton teaching garden which benefit around 10,000 school children each year with short courses on garden education, sustainability and biodiversity.  The education centre also houses the Blundell Library which is the principal horticultural library in the north of England.

The Hedgehog Garden with the Education Centre beyond
The Hedgehog Garden with the Education Centre beyond

Close to the education centre we came to Hedgehog Street which is a UK based conservation initiative set up by two charities, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species’ and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.  The project commenced in 2011 in response to a decline in hedgehog numbers.  Linked to the initiative is the Hedgehog Street website which provides useful information on the habitat of hedgehogs together with tips on managing gardens to benefit hedgehogs.  The small patio garden featured above is part of Hedgehog Street demonstrating how shrubs and ground cover plants can help these adorable prickly little creatures.

Hedgehog Street, Harlow Carr Garden
Hedgehog Street, Harlow Carr Garden

Continuing our stroll we crossed the lake and followed the Woodland walk where the Rhododendron glade was in full bloom with a colourful array of spring flowering bulbs and bluebells around the tree trunks.  There’s much to see at Harlow Carr whatever the season as when the spring flowers fade away, borders of summer annuals will provide a splash of colour.

Harlow Carr Garden
Spring flowers at Harlow Carr Garden

Further on, we came to a series of small gardens, designed to provide inspiration on landscaping and planting.  All plants were labelled which was such a good idea enabling notes to be taken for future reference.  I particularly liked the garden featured below showcasing contemporary planting with a twist.

Harlow Carr Garden
Contemporary garden design, Harlow Carr Garden

The Alpine House is another recent feature with excellent displays of rock plants.  The glass house is 24 m (80ft) long and contains a collection of more than 2,000 different specimens.  The Alpine House is unlike most greenhouses in that it doesn’t provide warmth but keeps plants dry, free of frost and cool having automated shading and air circulation fans.  Outside, rock plants native to a northern climate grow on limestone walls, in old stone sinks and small rockery features.

Alpine House, Harlow Carr Garden
Alpine House, Harlow Carr Garden

We concluded our tour of Harlow Carr with a visit to the Scented Garden which lived up to its name with delicately perfumed fragrances drifting by as we followed the narrow paths brimming with spring colour.  It was then time for a look in the RHS gift shop which includes a section on gardening books with a cosy window seat overlooking the gardens to sit and browse.  Of course no visit to a public garden could be complete without looking around the plant centre and wondering what could brighten up our own small garden.

Harlow Carr Garden
Spring flowers in Harlow Carr Garden

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also be interested in reading the following related posts:

Ripley Castle, Gardens and Village

Harlow Carr Glow Illuminations

Mother Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough


67 thoughts on “RHS Harlow Carr Garden

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  15. Reblogged this on MarethMB and commented:
    Thank you for giving us a tour with you through this lovely garden! I am reblogging it as a reminder to myself that this is a place to visit should I ever be in Harrogate. I think Bettys’ Cafe will be my final stop there. 💐😄💐

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Beautiful garden! I have fantasies of creating something like this at my home, but it never gets past the thought process. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually get motivated to start with a little corner and expand from there.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Your picture of the spring flowers at the garden is gorgeous! Such a wonderful mix of hard (boulders) and soft. The variation of height, texture, colour is wonderful. Why can I look at these vignettes and know what I like, but not manage to create it myself?

    I applaud the efforts to educate people about providing wildlife habitat. Hedgehogs would, indeed, be welcome guests in my yard, but we haven’t got them here in Canada.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. ThingsHelenLoves

    This post brings back memories, I visited this place when we lived in the UK. We were posted in Catterick Garrison and really enjoyed our time striking out and exploring the area. The tulips in that last picture are stunning!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your interesting thoughts and so glad that you had an opportunity to visit Harlow Carr. North Yorkshire is very scenic and so Catterick would have been a nice posting with places like York, Harrogate and Northallerton to visit.


      1. travelrat

        It almost certainly would! However, my late mother was an inveterate ‘cutting-taker’, in spite of being told it’s not the done thing; her garden had stuff from just about every public garden between Perth and Penzance!

        Liked by 1 person

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