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Review: RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Attraction - Park & Garden

Harrogate, United Kingdom

All this and Betty's too

  • By SilverTraveller JohnP

    205 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • July 2017
  • Wife

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.

This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Royal Horticultural Society

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Other Members' Thoughts - 5 Comment(s)

  • sandra_42
    7 months ago
    Love the gardens but the wait to get a table at Betty's far too long.
  • DRSask
    7 months ago
    Takes me back to a visit I made to Harlow Carr eight years ago when spending a week in Harrogate. Like you, I arrived by bus. Lovely garden to explore and having a Betty's cafe doesn't hurt either.
  • JohnP
    7 months ago
    How much I agree with Flower, Our daughter lives in an undistinguished village close to Sowerby Bridge but the countryside surrounding it is magnificent. We had many happy holidays in Malham and again found when the press of tourists was too great (most weekends) a short journey would reach tranquility. With this summer's weather the best we've experienced since the 1980s it really is God's own county.
  • ESW
    7 months ago
    It's a few years ago that I visited Harlow Carr, so this has brought back happy memories. It is a wonderful garden and there is so much to see and enjoy. The grandsons loved the open spaces to be able to run and work off energy. And of course there was always a fat rascal from Betty's to enjoy too.

    The ornamental onion plant I bought still flowers every year. I asked in the shop about killing ants and was very nicely told that they were beneficial for the garden and I needed to learn to live with them. My comment was that they weren't beneficial when they invaded the rockery and turned the soil into sterile sand. We had to agree to differ....

  • Flower
    7 months ago
    Yes I do agree: you can never get enough of the wonderful Yorkshire countryside. But, why stop there? In Yorkshire it is not necessary to visit the special tourist places for there are many hidden sites of great beauty hidden from the tourist books and recommendations. Try the old Ridings with their rippling becks wnding their way at the edges of those antique canals and those still remaing hump-back bridges ie Thorton's narrow roads where time has stood still...