RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Coordinates: 53°58′56″N 1°34′21″W / 53.98222°N 1.57250°W / 53.98222; -1.57250
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RHS Garden Harlow Carr
The entrance to Harlow Carr Gardens
RHS Garden Harlow Carr is located in North Yorkshire
RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Location in North Yorkshire
LocationCrag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
OS gridSE2754
Coordinates53°58′56″N 1°34′21″W / 53.98222°N 1.57250°W / 53.98222; -1.57250
Area23.4 hectares (58 acres)
Created1946 (1946)
FounderNorthern Horticultural Society
Operated byRoyal Horticultural Society
Visitors446,730 (2019)[1]

RHS Garden Harlow Carr is one of five public gardens run by the Royal Horticultural Society. It is located on the western edge of Harrogate in the English county of North Yorkshire.

The RHS acquired Harlow Carr through its merger with the Northern Horticultural Society in 2001. It had been the Northern Horticultural Society's trial ground and display garden since they bought it in 1946.


The garden is situated on Crag Lane, off Otley Road (B6162) about a mile and a half from the centre of Harrogate. [2]


Harlow Carr has:

  • Winter Walk
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Gardens through Time
  • The Queen Mother’s Lake
  • Woodland
  • Streamside
  • Wildflower meadow and bird hide
  • Arboretum
  • Humus-rich terraces
  • Winter Garden
  • Scented Garden
  • Foliage Garden
  • Annual and perennial displays
  • Ornamental Grasses border
  • Alpine House
  • Learning Centre
  • Library

It also has a shop, plant centre and[2] Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms.[3]


Harlow Carr gardens

Springs of sulphur water were discovered on the site in the 18th century but development of the site as a spa did not take place for over a hundred years. In 1840, the owner of the estate, Henry Wright, cleaned out and protected one of the wells and four years later built a hotel and a bath house.[4] People were charged two shillings and six pence (nominally 1212 p but about £14.00 at current prices) to bathe in the warm waters.[citation needed] The gardens were laid out around the bath house and in 1861 the site at Harlow Carr springs was described as:

a sweet secluded spot ... the grounds neatly laid out, adorned with a selection of trees, shrubs, flowers, walks, easy seats and shady arbours.[citation needed]

The hotel later became the Harrogate Arms but closed in 2013.

The Northern Horticultural Society was founded in 1946 with the objective of:

promoting and developing the science, art and practice of horticulture with special reference to the conditions pertaining to the North of England.

The society leased 10.5 hectares (26 acres) of mixed woodland, pasture and arable land at Harlow Hill from the Harrogate Corporation and it opened the Harlow Carr Botanical Gardens in 1950.[4] The chief aim of the venture was to set up a trial ground where the suitability of plants for growing in northern climates could be assessed. The original area has been extended to 23.4 ha (58 acres).[4]

The bath house was converted in 1958 to contain the library and study centre. More recently it has been used as an exhibition space for arts and crafts. The six well heads in front of the bath house have been capped off but remain beneath the present Limestone Rock Garden. At times there is a smell of sulphur in this area.[2]

A new learning centre was built in 2010 containing classrooms for school visits and adult learning courses, and the library. The latter holds a range of gardening-related books, periodicals and DVDs which can be loaned to RHS members and accessed by any garden visitor.[5]

In 2014 the Harrogate Arms and the land surrounding it was acquired by the RHS with plans progressing to restore the building, create new gardens around it and reintroduce its links with the old bath house.[citation needed]

In 2021 the new Thaliana Bridge was installed across the Queen Mother's Lake with the design representing the sequence of an Arabidopsis thaliana chromosome. This was inspired by the work of the botanical scientist Rachel Leech.[6]

Geoffrey Smith, writer and broadcaster, was Superintendent of Harlow Carr from 1954 to 1974.


  1. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". www.alva.org.uk. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Plan your visit". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Bettys at RHS Garden Harlow Carr". Bettys Online. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "The story of RHS Garden Harlow Carr". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Visit the Library at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire". Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  6. ^ "Genome research inspires new bridge at Harlow Carr". The Garden (September 2021): 97. 2021.

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