Just a few details from the winter garden - Harlow Carr Gardens

We visited, on impulse, RHS Harlow Gardens today due to the bright if cold weather. To be frank there was not a lot of colour in conventional terms. There were however one or two beauties. How about this clematis, the seeds of which caught the early morning sun. I'm not sure of the variety but we used to have Clematis tangutica that came into its own in the early winter.

Or Cortaderia selloana, the once popular but now neglected Pampas Grass. It was high summer all right. Towering over our heads the plumes of this life enhancing, if space inhibiting, grass were extraordinary. My father-in-law grew this plant to perfection until, as he burned down the stubble after the flowering and seed head period, he singed the next door neighbour's fence.

Later on in the day, or rather night, there was to be a lighting display, Harlow Carr bowing down to populism.  I'm sure it will be illuminating and they were set up in the best possible taste.

Back to real plants. The barks of cherry and birch. The gardeners had been out buffing up the Prunus for all they were worth. A gloss and polish like that can't be natural. The birch is matt white. Where was my Parker fountain pen when I needed it? Such beauty. The bark not the handwriting.

Naturally I had to visit the alpine house where, genuine surprise here, there was not the variety of colour I've come to expect. So I'll miss out the ipheions because I have them in flower in the open soil - did you hear that Harlow Carr? And go straight to this gem with tiny red flowers. Saxifraga gokka. It flowers in late autumn and I know from a friend that rabbits ignore it completely. So why grow it under glass? Because it is lovely with its bright blooms bursting from interesting lobed foliage. Unsullied by frost's little fingers.

The sun was bright indeed even if it was perishing. Everywhere was nicely spruced up however. They also provide seats for old men. Very much appreciated.

And to round off our excursion how about this for an all in one treat for the garden visitors? A house with all the trimmings, even a tap. Very nice, yes? Great visit ..... apart from the "Galaxy Wind Spinner / Wind Sculpture in burnished gold finish" I was persuaded to purchase about which much more later when I've set it up.


  1. I would love to have a nearby winter garden to explore. The natural landscape is pretty enough, but can get a little drab after the first 9 or 10 weeks of our winter...
    That bark is amazing. I may be out in the garden this weekend scrubbing and polishing because I'm sure my own birch is sub-standard!
    I would have preferred a little more sun on my bench ;)

  2. Given the lack of colour in my own garden at the present it's easier to write about the very many gardens within easy driving distance. We are lucky. Get that sub-standard bark up to UK standards!

  3. That bark is superb - very sculptural in itself! Having lived all my life in various hot summer regions, I have a secret passion for the cool climate birches... of course! ;-) But that Prunus is every bit as beautiful.
    And I'm looking forward to hearing about the Galaxy Wind Spinner?!


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Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'