I thought it would be a little warmer for our visit to Harlow Carr come April, but it was mighty cold on Sunday. I was in two minds as to whether I'd need my coat but I'm glad I took it, I'd have contracted hypothermia without it. I've come to the conclusion that the winds carry a severe chill factor in this area. There's a big difference in the gardens this month though, the trees are starting to green up and there's plenty of colour about.
It's lovely to see lots of blossom on the trees, a wonderful sight.
One of my favourite flowers at this time of year is the snake's head fritillary or Fritillaria meleagris. As well as plants in some of the borders at Harlow Carr, there's whole swathes of them growing amongst the grass, it makes a fabulous display.
There's also crown fritillaries or Fritillaria imperialis in the borders at the moment, I particularly like the yellow variety.
I was surprised to see the rhododendrons flowering so early. This is Rhododendron praevernum which I think may flower a little earlier than some of the other varieties, such beautiful flowers, almost translucent.
The skunk cabbage, or Lysichiton americanum, which I showed in my post last month has grown. It gets its name from the unpleasant odour it emits which attracts pollinators which are attracted to rotten meat, I'm sure this tells you how bad it smells, though I have to say that I didn't notice any scent. I think it's worse if the plant gets injured.
The rockeries are looking wonderful at the moment, lots of spring colour. I do like the little alpines which are planted here.
The daffodils are still flowering their socks off. I was particularly taken with narcissus Actaea.
I do like the stong colours of this one though, I didn't find out its name.
The marsh marigold at the side of the stream is flowering away. My own little pond is a mass of yellow flowers at the moment too.
On to the Kitchen Garden and things are coming to life here.
There's evidence that lots of direct sowing has been done and some seeds have even germinated. These are radish Zlata, a yellow variety with a white interior.
There's still some of last years crops left, the purple sprouting broccoli is still going strong. This variety is Mendocino.
Harlow Carr have a lot of raised beds are their disposal but I'm always pleased to see that space is used wisely. As well as growing carrots in the beds, seeds have also been sown in containers stood at the side of the beds.
Look at this for a space saving idea, I think it looks quite cute too. I should think that most people have somewhere they could put a little strawberry sack.
This information board shows Harlow Carr's crop rotation plans. It's important not to grow the same crop in a bed year after year because it encourages the build up of pests and disease. The easiest way to avoid this is to rotate where each crop is grown. I use a four year rotation plan on my allotment.
The rhubarb bed has certainly filled up since my last visit, it looks as though there's some stems just about ready to pull.
The forcers cover some of the rhubarb plants. Growing the plants in the dark encourages the tender young stems to grow upwards seeking out light. The stems are ready for picking earlier than those which haven't been forced. Some of the stems have grown so long that they've pushed the tops of the forcers right off the pots.
Yorkshire's Rhubarb Crumble and Custard Garden which won a Silver Medal and the People's Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 is on display at Harlow Carr. It's a take on the classic dish of rhubarb crumble and custard inspired by Yorkshire's Rhubarb Triangle, a nine square mile triangle where rhubarb is grown. The handcrafted chair resembles a spoon.
I noticed a new installation at the side of the kitchen garden, this chicken coop. There weren't any residents but I'm sure it's only a matter of time, I'll keep you posted.
The bed I'm following has put on a lot of growth this month. The startings of many herbaceous perennials are now showing so I'm sure there'll be a big difference in the bed each month from now on.
There was an event on when we visted on Sunday, the Spring Gardening and Wildlife Weekend. There were butterfly walks, outdoor cooking demonstrations and a beekeepers display among other things, and though we missed the birds of prey flying show, we did get to see the birds. This is Olly, a three year old European Eagle Owl.
This American Kestrel was tiny, about half the size of a European Kestrel.
One of the things I love about Harlow Carr at this time of year is the tulip displays. Though still a little early, some were already blooming but it looked like most are yet to come. This bed will be stunning once all the tulips are flowering.
I like how some displays are done on a big scale, these pots are huge.
Some lovely combinations.
This is the pot I showed in last month's post. The crocus are finished and the daffodils are now flowering with tulips just starting to come through.
As you can see, things are really coming on in the gardens now, there's a huge difference between March and April and I expect to see another big difference when we return in May. I keep saying it but let's hope we have some warmer weather for our visit next time.
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