RHS Harlow Carr Streamside Primula candelabra

North, South, East and West - RHS shows the best

We are all familiar with seeing the wonderful flowers shows at RHS Chelsea on the television.  It is probably about 10 years ago that I actually went to my first RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden and about the same to my first RHS show.

I hadn’t appreciated the extent of RHS Rosemoor when I visited. I only remember a couple of the garden rooms and that is a bit hazy. We had a small child with us and probably arrived late in the day on a rather cool afternoon early in the year.

Since that first visit I came across RHS Harlow Carr through a display border in the Harrogate Valley Park but didn’t have time to explore further. In the last few years I have visited a couple of times -  en route to my daughter in Newcastle upon Tyne: pre-Covid with my mother, a keen gardener, where we also tested the delights of the attached Betty’s tearoom and more recently with my husband -who enjoys trees more than flowers and plantings. Highlights of this lovely garden for me are the streamside walk with Primula candelabra ‘Harlow Carr’, the lovely alpine house and the development of the edible gardens.


RHS Bridgewater is my local RHS garden - just over an hour away by car. It was with great anticipation that the long talked of garden finally opened. I first managed to get there in July 2021 when it was still a very new garden. It was a little bare but with many interesting plantings including the hydrangea test area, and a beautiful climbing display near the community garden.

Last week I revisited with a friend and it was lovely to see how the garden had filled out. Highlights were the lovely camassias, cacti and succulents, the Persian garden and forest garden. Finding salsify and scorzonera in flower were a challenge to our identification skills.


So being in the northern two thirds of the country we also had the RHS Show Tatton Park within travelling distance and this year the RHS Urban Garden Show in Manchester, the latter being accessible by public transport. RHS Show Tatton Park has been a pleasure to go to, both organisationally and inspirationally. Children’s gardens, back-to-back small gardens as well as the floral pavilion and the main gardens.


I read some time ago of a lady who had challenged herself to make a journey around National Trust properties testing the scones and blogging about it. In a similar vein the RHS really do well at inspiring and engaging within their gardens. Ideas that can be translated for a smaller garden. Looking at the website I realise that I have heard Matthew Pottage from RHS Wisley on Gardeners Question Time and looking at the map I am inspired when I retire to complete the visits to those gardens further afield. A friend in Essex often posts photographs of her local garden Hyde Hall which are inspiring. Plenty of ideas and vistas to enjoy and interesting to see the variation depending on location and curators.

So maybe my bucket list will include RHS Wisley, RHS Hyde Hall, RHS Chelsea Flower Show plus a regular catch up with RHS Bridgewater to see how it is progressing as well as checking out the RHS Partner gardens on my way and maybe a scone or two…

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