Harrogate, North Yorkshire is one of the UK’s most attractive large towns. Once famous for its spas, today it is a commuter town for nearby Leeds and Bradford, a tourist centre and an important exhibition and conference destination. It’s record of gold medal wins in the annual Britain in Bloom is testament to the beauty of it’s floral displays. Valley Gardens is rightly rated as one of our nations best municipal parks and to cap it all, just over a mile north of the town centre you can find Harlow Carr, the RHS’s northern base.
Northern Horticultural Society
The Northern Horticultural Society was founded in 1946, it’s aim to develop horticulture suited to the harsher northern climate. They opened the gardens in 1950 with a focus on plant trials. The late Geoffrey Smith, a former presenter of Gardeners World and author of many gardening books managed the garden in it’s formulative years from 1954 to 1974. It’s fair to say in these early days, focus was very much on the plants rather than the visiting public.
RHS Harlow Carr
The RHS took over control of the garden in 2001. Since then, millions of pounds have been invested to create one of The North of England’s top gardens to visit. The RHS has the knack of developing visitor numbers to provide the income for the ongoing development of horticulture.
The garden now covers nearly 60 acres. You can find spectacular broad borders, limestone rockeries, rhododendrons, an amazing alpine collection and much more. There is a learning centre with an RHS Library and in the former bath house (the site was once a spa) there are art displays.
Whether you are plantsperson or just want a beautiful garden to walk around in or relax, it fits the bill!
There is a large RHS plant centre and shop. Bettys, the famous chain of tea shops provide the refreshments. The RHS has bought the adjacent former Harrogate Hotel to provide further room for growth.