Saturday, 12 February 2011

Garden Visit: Harlow Carr in the Spring, part 1

The first garden visit of the year and what an excellent one to start with. Management needed to go to Yorkshire to collect something and kindly offered to make a small detour off the A1(M) to drop me at Harlow Carr. I wanted to make a Spring reconnaissance to check out some planting ideas and with the forecast of a sunny day it was a perfect opportunity. The trip was also a great chance to meet up with my friend Jill (Lakeslover) who doesn't live too far away. We email lots but don't get to see each other very often and as a keen gardener, Jill didn't need much persuasion to meet me and share her knowledge and experience as we walked around.

I wanted to check out the state of some areas at a less verdant time of year than during my July visit. Firstly, the Kitchen Garden. Very neat and tidy but bare, oh so bare ... Much is written in modern gardening books about the Victorians tucking a kitchen garden out of sight in order that ranks of cabbages (or the hard-working gardeners) could not be seen from the house. It was most likely a far more pragmatic decision - no matter how neat your raised beds most of the kitchen garden is an empty place for much of the winter.


The crab apple fedge was a little disappointing - I expected there to be a greater screen of branches.

This willow screen is still one of my favourite bits of the kitchen garden, lovely last year with sweet peas, this year it will be used as a support for broad beans.


Had an interesting conversation with one of the RHS staff about the removal of the Willow Ship to extend this area. It appears the RHS have been somewhat taken aback by the number of complaints they have had and reading between the lines I felt they may be regretting the decision. I wouldn't mind but it doesn't look like they are doing anything more with this additional space than "more of the same" but more visits later in the year will see if I am right.

Not another willow structure, but the stems of Euphorbia palustris.


The Streamside area looked very bare in places without the Gunnera manicata.




Last year's growth lay like over the crown of the plant like a sleeping dragon arranging protective wings over its back. It could have been a soggy mess but Jill and I found it slightly reminiscent of a sci-fi film set and not unattractive.



I also wanted to check out the Winter Walk famous for it's colour at this time of year. I've never been enamoured with the planting of Cornus for the winter stem colour and this confirms that it will definitely not be happening at Bag End. The greens are way too limey and yellow, and the red/orange don't sit well with the surrounding colours.

3 comments:

  1. Oh but those cornus stems can be used to make the most amazing coloured baskets!

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  2. Ryton a couple of weeks ago was even more bare than Harlow Carr (must do blog update!!) - with the exception of a cold greenhouse with winter salad. I quite like the winter walk (although I am with you on the limey green stems - yuk) - at least there is *something* looking interesting!

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  3. VH - I know, but seeing as I cannot yet even make ordinary coloured baskets, I'll give that one a miss for now!

    Hazel - look forward to hearing about Potato Day

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