Of pantomimes and make believe

Okay here’s a question for you: 'what is 9ft 3in (2.8m) tall and grows as fast as the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk?'

Cardiocrinum (giant lily) at RHS Garden Harlow CarrAnd the answer is... 'our Cardiocrinum giganteum that’s what!'

Honestly, this giant lily has spouted up from seemingly nowhere and is to be found on the woodland fringes of the garden. One of two specimens that we have up there, it belongs to the lily family and has beautiful highly-scented flowers on the top of its stem. Not that anyone can get up there for a sniff unless they have a stepladder! They are truly spectacular and well worth a look. Cardiocrinums take a long time to get to maturity and unfortunately, because they are ‘monocarpic’, once they have flowered they die. They leave offsets behind so we can grow these on and the process starts again.

Paris polyphylla at RHS Garden Harlow CarrAnother unusual and rather exciting plant just next to the cardiocrinums has the unlikely name of Paris polyphylla (sounds like some sort of child superstar!). It is flowering now and has intensely green spider-like flowers in a wheel-shaped arrangement with a tiny purple centre. They look rather like the Catherine wheel of the plant world. This is another delightful woodland plant, and certainly very unusual. They are not difficult to grow from seed and are fully hardy.

White rabbits….

Soon it will be the summer holidays – where’s this year going? – and we are all busily preparing for the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which is the theme running across all four of the RHS gardens this year for the school holidays. There will be lots to see and many activities. I can’t possibly reveal here what we have in store for you yet – that would be telling – but beware of rabbits with large clocks and Cheshire cats; not to mention Red Queens!


Moon gate….and children’s play

Meanwhile, the finishing touches of our new play area for our younger members is being put together, and the woodland team have all been working very hard to get it completed for the start of the holidays.

This is specifically designed for our visitors aged five and under so they too can have fun in the garden. Travel through the moon gate and see what awaits at the other end!

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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.