Six on Saturday: 36.6.21 RHS Harlow Carr

Last Monday I had my next round of RHS exams. I think the soil module went well. I may have managed a commendation, not so sure about plant health. I think I passed but not sure of what level. But I had less interest in learning about chemical controls I have no intention of using. On the way to my exam, I stopped off for a quick visit to RHS Harlow Carr. It’s the first time I’ve visited. I want to try and make use of my student RHS membership while I get it cheap. Sadly most of the gardens are open for RHS members on workdays so I rarely get to take advantage. The weather was good, cloudy but warm. Nice for walking around a garden. Not ideal for photos but I got some wildlife shots I’m quite proud of. My six are going to go beyond six photos into six categories because there were far more than six things to enjoy.


The gardens are providing for a rich and diverse variety of wildlife. I saw a good number of birds species, bees and butterflies. The combinations of stream, woodland, meadows and wildlife friendly plants provides a good range of habitats for wildlife. My wife is teaching more photography next year and I’ve been taking some pointers and it’s paying off.

A small tortoiseshell in the scent garden.

A blue tit near the bird hide. There were a lot of bird feeders around though most were empty. I think they are still probably getting by on lower staff numbers with Covid. The bird hide feeders were stocked and swamped by squirrels with a few birds venturing on.

A crow and ferns. I like corvids. They are beautiful birds in their satorical eleagance. Combined with ferns for a nice background.

Squirells were hovering up food all other the place.


I love an iris and right now there many at their best. Harlow Carr had a great numbe of beauties.

Iris robusta gerald darby

Iris chysographes. A stunning dark beauty.

The alpine house

I’ve never been that interested in alpines and rockeries. I grow a few but as I have put much my effort into my shaded front garden with thick clay they don’t have much place there. But it was interesting to see and alpine house. None of the local gardens we visit regularly have one so it made a change.

It was interesting seeing how some are planted in a roughly natural setup spreading through the rocks while others are contained in their pot.

And an orchid.


A lot of the outer areas had been left to go to meadow which was being visited by a few different insects even on a fairly grey day.

One of our native orchids.

The stream

The stream runs down the middle of the garden and had some of the most concentrated planting. This was very much to my taste. Lots of lush foliage with punctuations of flowers. The visitor boards explained how they are climate proofing the gardens by planting suitable plants and making use of the water and drainage.

The primula candelabra are what I will probably remember the garden for. These had been used in big blocks along a lot of the border. At the end of my visit I intended to buy some but I didn’t see any for sale. But it’s probably for the best as they worked so well here as they had been planted in large blocks, not just one or two.

The meconopsis were also looking grand, but I know their reputation for being awkward to grow to even consider spending the time on.

The inevitable purchases

Obviously, it was unavoidable that some plants would come home with me. The plants were largely at the silly price you would expect from an RHS garden. In some cases 3 times what I think I’d pay locally but there was some perennials at a reasonable price. I went with two salvias. Hot lips which I know many people dislike as there are now better lips on the market. But it is popular with bees and nice spilling out at the edge of a border. If they had amethyst lips I would probably have gone for that, but not available. I also went with one I know nothing about Salvia greggi mirage cherry red that looks to be a good vibrant red. This looks be a nice in your face colour. Then as the irises had been one of the stand out plants I went with iris Benton deirdre. This was a Cedric Morris bred iris with white petals with maroon feathery edging. It looks to be quite dramatic. The last purchase was a cheaper one on the way home from a toilet stop-off. I got a primula vialli. This was instead of the candelabras I had seen at Harlow Carr. This will fit better amongst my existing plants though I could probably do with another pot or two. But it will gradually spread.

I hope you have enjoyed my Harlow Carr visit and I make no apologies for featuring more than six photos. There are still lots more I could show off.

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Six on Saturday: 19.6.21

So, I have my next 2 RHS exams on Monday, so I will be preparing for soil exam and pests and diseases so it’s going to be a quick one this week.

  1. Dutch iris

A bit of a strange colour combination on this one but I rather like it.

2. Dutch Iris

This is the more standard colour. They are scattered along the border. Between a few different varieties of irises I now get to enjoy them through more of the seasons.

3. Pyracantha orange glow

The pyracantha is flowering well. I only added this recently so it’s still rooting. The seagulls pulled it out a few times so I’m glad to see it flowering. Hopefully lots of berries for the birds to enjoy.

4. Climbing rose Scarlet Paul

This rose is now well established and the training has gone well as we now have flowers all along a good section of fence. Not bad for £2 supermarket climber.

5. Poppy Black Swan

I’ve grown these from seed from Sarah Raven. I fancied something different as I just have the one form of poppy that seems to return each year that is a large dark poppy with smooth edges so I thought these would be a nice addition alongside.

6. Forget-me-not clearing

The forget-me-nots are going to seed so it’s time to scatter a few so they return and clear to make room for other plants coming through. There will be many more wheelbarrows to go. Just doing a few each day.

So that’s it for this week. Back to studying. I need a bit more of a focus on weeds and making sure I’ve got the Latin names in my head. Wish me luck!

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Six on Saturday: 12.6.21

The garden is shooting onwards after a thunderstorm earlier in the week followed by lots of sun. Far more than six beauties to pick currently but this week’s six will feature a mixture of jobs and flowers and wildlife sightings.

The yellow rose

This rose came with the garden. It flowers reliably and is fairly trouble free. Nice dark yellow blooms fading to buttery yellow.


The hostas have been getting nibbled. I’ve started my nighttime patrols with my snips and my torch but also given the plants a dose of nematodes. The nematodes are a natural way of killing off the slugs and keeping the numbers down.


Luckily there are also lots of frogs around. This one looked to have swallowed a full snail.


These are growing madly this year. They self seed around and then I usually pull most out allowing just a few to come through. My genetic gene pool is largely creating murky pink ones but the bees love them so a few can stay.

The hanging pot

The sunnier weather has led to this shooting off and creating lots more flowers. A rather pretty shade of dark and light pink.

Bearded iris

This has been my favourite bloom this week. It was a cheap Wilco’s purchase. It’s taken till it’s 2nd year to bloom but it’s an absolute beauty.

Thank you for reading. Looking to be a hot weekend. The forget-me-not clear and shake process has started. This is always nice as one they are cleared away I discover lots of hidden plants coming through in the mass of faded blue.

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Six on Saturday: 5.6.21 hodge podge edition

This week’s six is coming from a few different gardens as it’s been half term and we’ve kept busy. I am taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild, though I am not blogging about it daily this year as it is quite time consuming and I have a lot coming up this month.

Wassand Hall

We made it to Wassand Hall on the bank holiday Monday. Wassand is probably our closest garden to visit. It’s just out of town with a short woodland walk and a small walled garden but they pack a lot in. They had set up a trail of small animal doors for kids to find on the woodland walk. Alice got a bag of sweeties at the cafe for her efforts so she was happy. We enjoyed a courgette cake and a bakewell slice. The gardens were at an odd inbetween season with some bits going over and other bits on the way. It’ll look great in a month or so. The hothouse is filled with amazing cannas and banana trees so the exotic section will be looking good again. The current star of the show was the irises. I picked up a few cheap from their plant sales and a couple of hardy geraniums.


We then walked out from the garden towards the mere. Were were tret to the sight of 2 deer running off to the long grass and managed a quick snap. I see them quite often locally but this is the closest photo I’ve managed yet.

White butterfly

Returning to my own garden we’ve had some sunshine this week bringing out the insects. Here we have the forget-me-nots being enjoyed. They’ve probably got another week or two until I pull them out and scatter the seed again. Amy’s teaching more photography next year so we’ve both been practising our skills more this week.


The damselflies have started to make their first appearances of the year in our garden. Hopefully the dragonflies will follow soon.


We visited my parents later in the week. The alliums are doing well and a good few bees coming out to play. I rather like the contrast on this photo.


And the birds weren’t too bothered by us being there.

I have my first jab this afternoon so hopefully still have the use of my arm afterwards as got a few jobs to get done tomorrow before the return to work. Hope you are all keeping well.

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