Most of my time in England was spent in the city of Leeds, but I did manage a few side trips to see friends. Harrogate was an easy 45 minute bus ride away, and the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr an old favourite, so when my lovely friend Ann suggested that we could walk there from the town centre I was delighted. She and husband Bill drove down from the north east. First stop, coffee and a catch up, and a cheese scone for me. I had always been curious about the Royal Baths in Harrogate, and this proved the perfect opportunity to visit the Royal Pump Room Museum, while the very British weather made up its mind.
Situated on the corner of Valley Gardens, the museum offers an insight into local life in Victorian times, if you were of a certain social standing. The agenda included ‘afternoon tea in the gardens, listening to the band’. Our weather was as good as it was going to get, so it was time to stride out into Valley Gardens, where the RHS show used to be held. It became too popular for this lovely place, and expanded to a less charismatic showground elsewhere.
The flowerbeds were a blaze of carefully tended glory, coleus and begonia vying for attention. Dahlias and chrysanths, pom-poms and spikes, a swathe of colour so breathtaking that I no longer noticed the drab skies. These Grade II listed gardens were originally a footpath beside a stream, from the Royal Pump Room to Bogs Field with its 36 different mineral wells. The gardens were opened in 1887 and the Magnesia Well Pump Room served mineral water from the adjacent well. Passing the Cherub Fountain we continued through Pinewoods, along the footpath to Harlow Carr.
First, to the Alpine House and a little warmth, we then set to, following our noses and the paths at will. No better way to explore a garden. When we lived in the north east my husband was a member of the RHS and we were semi-regular visitors to Harlow Carr. The Spring Show was a highlight of the year but for us the Summer Show became too big, selling lots of things we neither wanted nor could afford. But the flowers were always stunning. A wander in these gardens in Autumn could satisfy all the senses.
There was a four seasons theme running through the garden, with cleverly constructed characters representing each of the seasons. Probably best not to meet them on a dark night.
By this stage of things the legs were tiring and there was still the walk back to the town centre. Being advised that there was an hour’s wait for Betty’s restaurant, the only sit down option in the gardens, we decided to leave. A good choice because we found a beautiful country house, The Pinemarten, just round the corner. If you look closely you’ll find me in the mirror behind Ann’s lovely smile.
Details for Harlow Carr, including a virtual tour, can be found on the website.
First to link up with me, Sarah indulges a love of Paris in a favourite area of mine :
Kelly caught my eye with this interesting walk :
Rosemay and I go back a long way, and it’s always a pleasure to share :
Mel loves to intrepidly go where many of us can’t :
And, just this morning, Aggie sent me this very moving piece. Thanks, hon!
Many thanks to all of you. I’m not sure if I’m reaching everybody I want to, or if this is the best way to do it. Life accelerates here in the Algarve and I have visitors coming. Already I have things happening here that I want to write about and still a pocketful of UK memories. But the evenings grow shorter and I’ll try to keep up. Take good care of yourselves meanwhile.