Up and coming at Harlow Carr

Cultivating both plants and people to ensure a bright future for horticulture

Developing talent at the RHS is a key part of the growing success of our gardens, particularly here at Harlow Carr. Each year we recruit two new apprentices who are with us for a period of two years. In this time they learn hands-on horticulture while attending college one day a week to study the RHS Level 2 Certificate.

It’s important that while they’re with us they have a real experience of managing a project from start to finish, working to deadlines, and compiling a portfolio to take to future potential employers. For this, our first year apprentices, Sam Wadsworth and Beth Hutchinson, were tasked with redeveloping two flowerbeds, located either side of our Plant Centre gates, in collaboration with Plant Centre Team Leader Alice Knowles. The long-term objective for these Pavilion beds is to create a ‘shop window’ to showcase seasonal plants and bulbs along with a range of shrubs available in our retail store. So in autumn 2016 Alice, Beth and Sam got stuck in to take out the old, and plant out the new.

September 2016

But sometimes things are not as straightforward as you think. After creating a design, and producing a method statement, reworking the raised beds proved a real challenge. The earth was much poorer than anticipated which meant replacing it all with new topsoil which was quite some task.


Bulbs were worked out per m² and plants spacings calculated by their pot size according to the design then the orders were placed. Working out the logistics of the who, what, where and when all went into the planning and so, of course did the weather! All these things play a part and are crucial in the learning process for any horticulturist on the threshold of their carreer. Planting out began in November to create a spring spectacular and I hope you’ll agree they made an impressive change to what had become a tired corner of the garden.


April 2017


  • Tulip 'White Prince'
  • Tulip 'Orange Emperor'
  • Tulip 'Red Impression'
  • Tulip 'Strong Gold'

New plants

  • Sarcococca confusa
  • Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrans’
  • Crinodendron hookerianum
  • Abelia × grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’
  • Viburnum ‘Eve Price’
  • Helleborus ‘HGC Shooting Star’
  • Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
  • Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.