RHS Garden Harlow Carr column with Liz Thwaite

Here I am pictured in front of the stained glass panels in the Magnolia Shelter.
Here I am pictured in front of the stained glass panels in the Magnolia Shelter.

Whether you’re a climate change sceptic or champion, there is no denying changes are afoot to the British seasons.

A glance around the garden provides all the evidence one needs of a particularly mild spring, with the unusually warm temperatures erasing the regional variations in flowering this year.

A lesser red poll is ringed at Harlow Carr.

A lesser red poll is ringed at Harlow Carr.

We’d normally expect to be a good two to three weeks behind the warmer south, but that’s certainly not the case this year, as our tulips will testify!

We’d planned our first Tulip Trail for this May – which in a ‘normal’ year, would’ve been perfect timing but if you’d like to see them at their best, it may be wise to pop along sooner rather than later as many varieties are already in full bloom, with others not far behind.

That’s the thing with Mother Nature: no matter how you plan and prepare, ultimately, she’s the boss!

The birds that make Harlow Carr their home certainly seem to be enjoying the milder weather; I’ve spotted lots of blue tits and blackbirds soaking up the sun, along with the UK’s smallest bird, the goldcrest.

Our feathered friends nest in the trees in the woodland as well as the dozens of bird boxes around the site, and our bird hide offers a tranquil spot to sit and watch them feeding and interacting.

For the past eight years, members of the East Dales Ringing Group have run bird ringing demonstrations at the garden.

This is a wonderful opportunity for members of the public – including me – to learn more about why birds are ringed: bird ringing in the UK is over 100 years old and aims to monitor the survival rates of birds, both locally and nationally, and collect vital information about their movements.

Such detailed information provides support for conservation efforts as it helps to understand the reasons behind population declines.

The group has just ringed the 1,000th bird at Harlow Carr – a significant milestone for a small team of dedicated volunteers. Well done to everyone involved!

You can do your bit too, so if you find a ringed bird, please make sure you report it on the British Trust for Ornithology website.

Another group of wonderful volunteers – The Friends of Harlow Carr – have been hard at work raising funds for our new oak shelter in the Woodland Glade.

Constructed by a local craftsman, it features a stunning mosaic floor by Olicana Mosaics and gorgeous stained glass panels, hand made by glass artist Deborah Lowe. The shelter is so-called because it sits next to the largest magnolia tree in the garden.

More magnolias, from small shrubs to large trees, have been planted in the area – all of which are in full bloom now - making it an ideal picnic spot or resting place for weary visitors. And relax…

For more information about RHS Garden Harlow Carr visit rhs.org.uk/harlowcarr where you will also find details about forthcoming events.