The Royal Horticultural Society has announced that gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh is to open the RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show on Friday 21 June to mark 70 years of the garden.
The RHS Ambassador and Vice-President, who celebrated his 70th birthday on 2 May, will give a talk about his life in horticulture and put the final touches to a floral cake to open the show.
The Northern Horticultural Society leased the land from the Harrogate Corporation in 1949 and the garden opened to the public in 1950. Once a blank canvas of fields and unkempt woodland, it is now one of the finest gardens in the country, welcoming around 450,000 visitors a year.
Alan said: “Harlow Carr has been special to me since the 1960s when I first visited it as a gardening apprentice from Ilkley. It has always occupied a special place in my heart as a glorious garden close to where I was born and grew up. I’m thrilled to be back and sharing a birthday with one of the country’s finest gardens!”
Paul Cook, Curator, said: “An earlier spelling of ‘Harlow Car’ gives a clue to the garden’s underlying character – ‘car’ refers to a marshy wetland! I can only imagine the challenges that our 1950’s counterparts faced. Much has changed in the 70 years since then, thanks to the vision and energy of successive garden teams who have shaped it into the beautiful Yorkshire garden it is today.”
The popular three-day show, now in its fourth year, will run from 21-23 June. It is a chance to browse, buy, and seek advice from more than 50 specialist nurseries and garden trade stands, enjoy a programme of talks and demonstrations and stroll around the stunning 58-acre garden. To celebrate the anniversary the garden will host a summer ‘SevenTea’ & cake celebration during the show, with a striking display of ‘SevenTea pots’ planted and decorated by schools and community groups from across Yorkshire. Visitors can taste a variety of herbal teas and find out more about the health and wellbeing benefits of ‘taking tea’ and its role in bringing people together.
Celebrity florist Jonathan Moseley will create a giant cake from a selection of seasonal flowers and give floral demonstrations. Visitors can also enjoy talks by the Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen and well-known garden writer and broadcaster Martin Fish. Caroline Smith, daughter of former curator and one of the earliest TV gardeners Geoffrey Smith, will share her childhood memories of growing up at Harlow Carr.
There is also the chance to see a collection of 12 paintings by Yorkshire artist-in-residence Anita Bowerman who spent the last year painting the garden through the seasons using natural materials such as twigs and moss. The full collection will be on display for the first time.
Harlow Carr owes its existence to the mineral springs in and around Harrogate. The site was once a Victorian health spa, with the first pleasure gardens laid out around the spa in 1844. Over a century later, when the Northern Horticultural Society (NHS) sought a northern equivalent to the RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, it chose Harlow Carr, then a 30-acre area of mixed woodland, rough pasture, a dilapidated bathhouse and stables. In 2001, NHS members voted in favour of amalgamating with the RHS and a new era began for the garden. An exhibition of archive photographs celebrating 70 years will be on display in the Library during the show.
Entrance is included in normal garden admission and the show is open from 10am – 5pm each day. Visit the RHS Website for full details including parking.