Rhododendrons at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate.

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:01 28 November 2017

Rhododendrons on peat terraces at RHS Harlow Carr

Rhododendrons on peat terraces at RHS Harlow Carr


If Rhododendrons are your thing then you couldn’t do much better than visit RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate.

Rhododendron geraldiiRhododendron geraldii

Head to the woodland area and marvel at the spring display of these wonderful, woody ornamental shrubs.

Some plants in this collection are more than 60 years old. The garden team has been propagating a few of the best to preserve them and new planting has begun to assess which varieties can survive and thrive in a northern climate.

The larger rhododendrons have had some cosmetic pruning with magical effects. Branches have been thinned and some of the lower ones removed to reveal the main trunks. Rhododendrons are shallow rooted and tend to topple with age. Low branches often take root and a single plant can form a circle of curved and twisted trunks with flaking bark; on some like R. thomsonii it is cinnamon-coloured and shaggy.

The season kicks off with larger flowering species including calophytum, x geraldii and praevernum which flank the Woodland Ride. Head to the rear of the Bath House for a selection of smaller cultivated varieties suitable for containers and troughs – ‘Tibet’, ‘Tidbit’, ‘Crane’ and ‘Cowslip’ are good choices.

Rhododendron barbatum thrive in the woodsRhododendron barbatum thrive in the woods

Many rhododendrons also boast impressive ornamental foliage, especially young leaves in spring which can be blue, silver, bronze, buff or red. The downy hair on the underside of more mature leaves is also worthy of note, particularly on species such as falconeri and fulvum.

Paul Cook, Harlow Carr curator, said: ‘Rhododendrons are a good choice for the garden and grow well in slightly acidic soil and dappled shade. There is a wide choice of sizes and flower colour and once established they light up the spring garden every year.’

Discover more at the Harlow Carr Rhododendron Show where there will not only be wonderful displays but a chance to have your questions answered by the experts. Members of the Harlow Carr Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group will be on hand to offer advice and conduct guided tours. A ‘best of’ competition is open to all Yorkshire rhododendron growers.

Harlow Carr Rhododendron Show

Saturday, May 9th–Sunday, May 10th 10am - 4pm

Find out more at rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr

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