RHS Harlow Carr

I’ve lived in Harrogate for 10 years and I’m ashamed to say that I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited my local RHS garden, Harlow Carr. When I plan a day out for the family I always think ‘where shall we go?’ When I should be thinking – ‘What’s on our doorstep.’ – After today, this is going to change!

I visited on Saturday for the flower show. Husband and littlies were in tow, so it was treated as a family day out – not a knowledge gaining exercise or brain picking trip. But, to be honest, it was hard not to learn!

The entrance to Harlow Carr is a spectacular one. As you leave the foyer, you are greeted with an elevated view of the gardens. This gives you a taste of what delights are going to be thrown your way!

First stop – Kitchen Garden. As you all know, I’m incredibly proud of our all-pot-ment. I look at it every day and get such a feeling of accomplishment and I’m so in ore of what the plants are achieving. If you, like me, think this about your allotment then please look away now – and never visit Harlow Carr. Why do I say this? Because the Gods’ made the Kitchen Garden at Harlow Carr. They are other-worldly – don’t expect to find a leaf or cane out of place. But, seriously – they’re incredible. And the best thing – it’s like the best classroom you will ever attend. Around every corner is a nugget of inspiration and – bonus – maps, diagrams and information to improve your own planting pitch.

Whilst strolling through the gardens, we were all as bad as each other, darting off, smelling beautiful flowers, gazing at gorgeous sights, but none were more welcoming than the Betty’s ice cream cabin.

After a quick refuel, and a spot of birdwatching, it was time to continue our adventure – into the woods.

Embarrassingly, on past visits to the garden, I must have been in far too much of a hurry to get to the finish line (my fat rascal from Betty’s), so I have (unknowingly) taken a shortcut – the stream-side route. A beautiful walk, don’t get me wrong, but little did we know what we had missed in the woods.

For me, the woodland pathways offered a sense of tranquillity and wonder. The dappled sunlight creeping through the trees, the rustling of the leaves and the song of the birds transported me to calm. Even though the gardens were a hive of activity and entertainment, the woodlands offered serenity… Until the littlies stumbled upon the first of the many play spaces – excitement overload!

There was something for every age – giant insect constructions to gaze at, climbing frames to explore and trees that begged to be climbed. Although our journey was reduced to a snail’s pace, it was a lovely place to take some time to watch the littlies play, after all – that’s what family days out are for – aren’t they?

I wish I could say that our next stop was a spot of afternoon tea at Betty’s, or a gin at the Harrogate Tipple stand, but the day was drawing to a close – legs were tired and minds were full. Just time for one last scoot around the stalls then back through the pinewoods and home.

So, how do I sum up Harlow Carr as a family day out – a perfect balance and definitely not to be missed!

See you again soon, Harlow Carr!

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