A Visit To Harlow Carr Garden In Winter

Colourful Winter Garden

In January, dogwood steals the show in Harlow Carr’s Winter Walk

We set off for Harrogate on a whim, inspired by the weather forecast, and booked into a hotel within walking distance from the RHS’s most northerly garden, Harlow Carr, a favourite haunt. The idea was to wake up next morning to find an artistic covering of snow or a hard frost – the added winter garden ingredients only nature can provide.

The forecast had been an exaggeration but, luckily, it turns out that a winter wonderland doesn’t need snow: it can cloak itself just as wonderfully in reds, oranges, browns and greens.

Snowdrops in a winter garden with a sprinkling of snow

Early bulbs are starting to appear, including these snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’).

We were too early to see the thousands of snowdrops, cyclamen, irises and eranthis hyemalis that will be at their peak in February and March. A small number of the advance guard could be spotted in flower in the woods, along the Winter Walk or sheltered in the glasshouse, giving a hint of the pleasure to come. But if you find yourself wondering whether a winter garden really has anything much of interest to offer in January, other than peace, you’ll find plant after plant lining up as if to say: ‘You misjudged me. You doubted there would be colour.’

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Piglet Demonstrates Air Sneck

A soft toy with his nose in the air

Some silences are companionable; others, less so.

Do you ever signal the fact of your being offended by lifting your nose towards the heavens, pursing your lips, and adopting the mock saintly expression of one cruelly mistreated, misunderstood (or both)? My sweetheart and I do. At first we used to ignore this haughty little signal, with predictable consequences, but a few years ago, we worked out a plan.    Continue reading

First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower

Brambles and moss, covered in frost

A New Year’s walk up to Darwen’s Jubilee Tower has become a tradition. I’ve been a little under the weather over the holidays (just a nasty cold), so when we finally took the plunge, it felt extra-good to brave the fresh, winter air and get out for some exercise.

Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower may look warm under the glow of late afternoon sun, but anyone who has ever made the climb will vouch for the wind chill factor up there, even on a summer’s day. Continue reading

Leafy Coleus With Beautifully Patterned Leaves

Leafy plant with green and purple leaves

Some plants have to wait for flowers to become colourful. Others, like this coleus, don’t. Purple, bright pink and cream splashes and veins do their best to crowd out the lime green, creating a bouquet on every leaf. Some varieties actually do flower very well, but for me, the tall spires of salvia-like flowers merely gild the lily… er, make that gild the coleus.  Continue reading