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RHS Garden Harlow Carr bursts out of lockdown

The team at RHS Garden Harlow Carr has been very busy during this lockdown period, getting on with as many jobs as possible whilst staying as safe as we can.

We divided the garden team up into two groups to minimise contact and happily, we have all stayed well and healthy, which is a blessing.

Iris in bloom at RHS Harlow Carr


Last year, we were fortunate enough to be given a legacy donation, and decided to use this for the renovation of the old Mediterranean border that runs across the top of the garden, separating it from the garden centre.

This area has been renamed ‘The Sun Border’, and for good reason: it has a fabulous sunny aspect, perfect for the sun-loving plants that will eventually take up residence in autumn.

As lockdown came, we were halfway through reshaping the paths and filling the bed up with light and sandy topsoil suitable for the new plants. Over 200 tonnes disappeared on this new bed, which is now considerably wider than the old bed.

The old fencing which separated the garden from the plant centre was removed and replaced with a lovely dark yew hedge which will set off the new planting beautifully. Yew is one of the most obliging hedges: evergreen and slow growing, with the added bonus that it can be tightly clipped into formal shapes.

Of course then followed the hottest spring on record, so we decided to delay the planting for now and instead sow a lovely annual mix of seed for visitors to enjoy this summer.


Meanwhile, over on the Streamside the team has been planting up the new balancing pond that was created last summer.

The idea is to slow the flow of water down as it passes through the garden. Planting has begun in earnest these last few weeks and it is now full of fabulous ferns and lovely primulas, in particular Primula secundiflora with its enticing dark crimson flowers and white blush along the stem. This is punctuated with Ranunculous acontifolious in white frothy swathes.

The Kitchen Garden is looking its very sharp and manicured best, as it always does, with the sweet peas just starting to flower and the sweet corn and beans planted now the risk of frost has passed.

Behind the scenes, the nursery – the garden powerhouse – is nurturing all the plants ready for the summer container displays, which will be planted over the next few weeks.

In other areas, the Goldsborough Garden is having a makeover too, with a totally tropical theme! This is still work in progress, but tantalising glimpses will soon be available through the banana leaves and palms.


The teams have achieved so much during lockdown and we are all now very excited to show off the progress that’s been made now the garden has re-opened. We look forward to seeing you!

Visits to Harlow Carr must be pre-booked, you can book your entry slot now directly from the RHS website.

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