Winter plantings and kitchen gardens

The snow has arrived at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, but there is still plenty do... as always

We have all said this before: Harlow Carr seems often to be in its own microclimate. Even nearby Harrogate doesn’t have the snow that we have had here over the weekend. This time we haven’t had a lot, but what we have had is now hard, crusty and icy and very reluctant to move! The woodland has become something of a skating rink so, reluctantly, we have had to restrict entry in there.

Hamamelis x intermedia jelena is a delight during winterHowever there are still plenty of other areas that are very exciting and awash with colour and scent. The Prunus serrula and the silver-stemmed birch, with under plantings of dogwoods, look spectacular (right), and the crinkly petals of the Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Jelena’ instantly make me want to stick my nose straight in them for an olfactory delight!

There is plenty to do in back in the office and the more mundane tasks are less exciting, but equally important: more diesel to be ordered to keep the glasshouse boiler running; more rock salt to help keep the roads clear; and more grit sand for the maintenance department. The ‘to do’ list increases much quicker than the ‘done’ ticks appear...

The kitchen garden team are busy with their 2015 plans for their beds; each person looks after a different area of the garden and under Alison Mundie’s guiding eye they develop that part. Francesco is working on roots, alliums and potatoes, Joe is doing brassicas and Alison is doing legumes. Each year they rotate – the crops and the people, the crops to decrease the risk of pest and disease build up and the people to increase their own development. It’s all rather neat and large boards explain the benefits of crop rotation to our visitors.

The other exciting thing happening in our kitchen garden is the arrival in March of some more hens. The hens have proved very popular here and everyone was very sad when the last ones had to retire. We are currently in the throws though of building a new hen house with an extended run and covered outdoor grass area for them. Such luxury – the hens are being reared by Joe and will arrive in spring. This time we are going for crested cream legbars - sounds amazing and I can’t wait!

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