Plants defying the snowy conditions

A new path and some winter-flowering favourites are providing interest at Harlow Carr, despite the wintry weather

The path being laid at RHS Garden Harlow CarrWe’ve been having a new section of path laid here at Harlow Carr (right) and it is quite an innovative method, using recycled rubber tyres and a percentage of coloured grit all mixed in cold-flow resin.

Recently, the lads doing it were preparing the ground that it was going onto. We’ve long had problems with this path and it has gradually eroded at the sides but the new path looks very smart and doesn’t retain any water – it soaks away through the rubber tyre pieces. It is also capable of withstanding frost which is very useful here!

The team laying the path had to wait until the temperatures rose above 3ºC before they could start, otherwise the resin wouldn’t flow. Anyway, the end result is very pleasing and will serve the area well.

First blooms brave the cold

Pulsatilla vulgarisThe recent snow lingered for a long while in parts of the garden, but this is not stopping some flowers from doing their best to get going. In the rock garden, a pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris, left) was determined to get its buds out – only to find itself frosted. It will carry on regardless – it's a hardy native plant that also grows in the cold climes of the high alpine meadows of Europe.

Crocus tommasinianus on the cusp of full flower at Harlow CarrThe crocus, one of the very early ones Crocus tommasinianus, look lovely (right) My favourite of all though, are the yellow winter aconites, Eranthis hyemalis. They peep though the ground with their ruff of green leaves circling the flower, not unlike Tudor royal personages. These little harbingers of spring are nothing if not cheerful and will spread quickly in your garden if the conditions are right.

They are related to buttercups and, when you look closely at the flowers, you can see the resemblance. They always make me smile when I walk past them, nestling under shrubs and in flower beds, another sign of brighter days to come.

Get involved

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.