The RHS Harlow Carr Flower Show

Blue Poppies at the Harlow Carr Flower Show

Yesterday afternoon we felt very fortunate to be able to preview the flower show that is being held from 10-12th June at the RHS’s lovely Harlow Carr Garden. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that the show is timed during the flowering of their blue poppies (meconopsis).

Blue poppy close up

I’m planning a post about these very soon, but couldn’t resist sharing a couple of pictures in advance. Blue poppies have a unreal beauty that is almost startling: I’m sure I do a double take whenever I see them. The flowers tend to nod, so it’s easy to miss seeing the beautiful details on the sheeny, silken petals. I love the veins that ripple through the background colour of this flower as it shades from white to pure blue to purple. For me it would be worth the trip just to see the poppies, but there’s more. Much more.

Harlow Carr Flower Border

The flower show itself would be less remarkable if it wasn’t in such an inspirational garden setting. At this time of year, thousands of alliums in the wide flower borders compete with the blue poppies for our attention, yet many would argue that the famous Harlow Carr candelabra primulas are even more spectacular.

Harlow Carr Candelabra Primulas

I’ve tried several times to capture these vibrant flowers in a picture, but never feel I do them justice. It’s as if my iPhone camera lens is dazzled. Go and see them lighting up the long, stream side garden for yourself if you can.

Badgers by David Cooke

A sculpture trail has been installed for the whole of June. I liked these ceramic badgers by David Cooke, available in a limited edition. They can also be created in bronze if you’re feeling flush!

Harperley Hall Farm Vignette

Clusters of white, pavilion style plant stalls are scattered through the garden during the flower show. The format will be familiar to anyone who has visited the larger event at RHS Wisley. Specialist plant nurseries take part, many creating a small, inspirational garden vignette featuring the plants they have for sale. I’m always impressed by the quality and variety of plants on offer and enjoy the chance to meet expert growers.

Plantagogo Heucheras For Sale

This is a glimpse of a corner of Plantagogo’s selling stand. I find all kinds of shade plants fascinating, and consider one of their specialities, heucheras, as seriously underrated, so always make time to see what these people have on offer. It was great to see Corydalis ‘Blue Heron’ for sale as we’d admired it (or a very similar cultivar) in Seattle’s Chihuly Garden just a couple of weeks ago.

Bunting

No British Flower Show would be complete without a little bunting. I’ve been meaning to get some for my house but keep neglecting to follow through with it!

Golden Hill Nurseries Vignette

Golden Hill Nurseries had blended pink hydrangeas with variegated, golden and bronze foliage plants in their vignette. On paper, I wouldn’t have expected it to work, but it was very effective.

Proctors Nursery Vignette

Proctor’s Nursery’s colourful display included stately white bellflowers and orange echinaceas, softened by ethereal grasses and masses of feathery white flowers.

Ethereal flowers

Their sturdy Verbascum ‘Pink Petticoat’ seemed more on the apricot side than the name would suggest, but was no less desirable for that.

Verbascum Pink Petticoat

My sweetheart was soon deep in a conversation with the nice people from Wack’s Wicked Plants, explaining how in his part of the world, insect eating plants grow in the wild, but more sparsely, and you have to risk encounters with snakes and alligators to get to them. Perhaps that’s why my picture seems decidedly askew.

Wacks Wicked Plants

Well, I can always blame that can’t I? I always get excited when I find myself in the midst of flowers so I was in several minds whether to focus on the veined patterns on the funnels, the unusual hooded flowers or on the whole scene. But you get the idea.

Peony in the scented garden at Harlow Carr

If you are planning to visit the show, try to leave time to explore Harlow Carr, including the conservatory, the kitchen gardens and the scented garden, one of my favourite places in Harlow Carr, where the roses and peonies are just starting to emerge.

Alliums at Harlow Carr Flower Show

If you’re overseas or not able to get there this year, I hope these pictures will give a flavour of the garden and the show.

Entrance to the show is free for RHS members and is included in the normal price of garden entry for non-members, making it great value. For more information, visit Harlow Carr’s website.

49 thoughts on “The RHS Harlow Carr Flower Show

  1. amosgirl says:

    Everything about this post makes me happy! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful flowers. The poppies are outstanding but ALL are glorious. A much needed treat for a Friday!

  2. Tony says:

    Fantastic photos Susan. We would have loved to have gone, but circumstances prevent it this time. Harlow Carr is a fantastic place to visit, and we are very lucky to be able to go often. It’s only about 10 miles from us.

    • susurrus says:

      You are lucky – it must be lovely to be able to walk around regularly. It’s very pretty as we approach on our drive in from Lancashire with the views of dry stone walls breaking up the fields – especially so when the hawthorne is in bloom as it is now.

  3. margaret21 says:

    You’ve made me think I should go next year. Harlow Carr is far from inaccessible to me, but I thought flower shows were for groupies, not mere mortals like me. Harlow Carr’s a wonderful place in its own right, and your description of the show makes it seem extra enticing.

    • susurrus says:

      I’m sure you’d like it. Most of the shows attract a very mixed crowd. There are some very knowledgeable ones who could give the exhibitors a good run for their money in a debate and others who just enjoy seeing flowers.

    • susurrus says:

      They’re not the easiest to grow even here – some are monocarpic and others short lived perennials, so I imagine the RHS have to replant quite regularly.

  4. calensariel says:

    Those coral colored flowers in that fourth picture are beautiful. And I do so LOVE hydrangeas. When we renewed our vows on our 35th anniversary, my bouquet was lavander roses and green hydrangeas.

    • susurrus says:

      The coral ones are the candelabra primulas. They have a special seed strain named Harlow Carr hybrids. They’re the reason I first started going to Harlow Carr, but I’ve found a good few more reasons since!

  5. Oddment says:

    I ditto Sustainabilitea: I’m still recovering from the blue. What a glorious start to my Saturday! I loved your comment about being of several minds — such richness would certainly have that effect.

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