Why Harrogate has more great gardens than you may think

Henshaws staff visit RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate. (Picture by Charlotte Graham)
Henshaws staff visit RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate. (Picture by Charlotte Graham)

Gardens and key attractions across the Harrogate District are celebrating a year of landmark anniversaries, including one not usually associated in the public mind with flora and fauna.

This year marks the 21st birthday of Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre in Knaresborough, 70th anniversary of RHS Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate, and the 10th anniversary of the Ripon Workhouse Kitchen Garden.

Richard Spencer, Director of Visit Harrogate, said: “It’s a bumper celebratory year for the Harrogate District, and now is the time to see our wealth of award-winning gardens and attractions in full bloom. Harrogate itself is a regular Britain in Bloom award winner and spectacular in the summer months, but across the District there’s a wealth of historic gardens to explore to make the most of the long summer holidays.”

The Visit Harrogate 2019 Gardens Guide showcases Yorkshire’s leading garden attractions from Ripon’s Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park to the World Heritage site, the Water Gardens of Studley Royal at Fountains Abbey.

Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre is a charity in the heart of Knaresborough. It enables people living with disabilities to discover their talents in its arts and crafts workshops, including horticulture, to promote life and social skills.

The centre features a Woodland walk, with sculptures, art, scented plants and water features.

For 21 years the Arts & Crafts Centre has attracted tourists, engaged community groups, and been a life-force in Knaresborough’s cultural scene.

Thousands of visitors visit each year to explore the gardens and busy calendar of events.

On the outskirts of Harrogate town, RHS Garden Harlow Carr covers 27.5 hectares with a wide variety of growing landscapes, from running and still water to woodland and wildflower meadows. Its 70th anniversary was celebrated with the gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh in June.

This summer it hosts a programme of arts, music and outdoor theatre.

The Ripon Workhouse Kitchen Garden, celebrating its 21st anniversary, is set in the 1890s and grows the varieties of fruit and vegetables that were available at the time. Workhouse gardens are rare survivals. It was carefully restored and is maintained by the Trust and a team of volunteers who use Victorian horticultural practices but with a 21st Century attitude towards the environment and a sustainable future.

Other garden highlights across the Harrogate District include Newby Hall in Ripon, featuring one of the longest double herbaceous borders in the country. It also homes a National Collection of Cornus, with over 100 individual specimens, alongside a wealth of unique gardens including a Tropical Garden, Woodland Garden, Rose Garden and Orchard Garden.

Hidden gems include Beninbrough Hall, a National Trust property nestled between York, Harrogate and Leeds, which has breathed new life into the gardens under the guidance of award winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon.