The highlight of the Water Garden is undoubtedly the stunning display of Harlow Carr Primulas that commences in May.
The myriad shades of pastel that proliferate in the garden (as a result of the Primulas’ readiness to hybridise amongst themselves),is reminiscent of the temptations on display in an old-fashioned sweet shop counter! Visitors often comment on how breath-taking they find the Water Garden at the Primulas’ peak.
Within the garden a manmade stream follows the natural contours of a downward slope into a large pool. This habitat provides ideal conditions for water-loving and marginal plants such as Iris, the magnificent Gunnera manicata, pretty Caltha palustris and the dark red foliage of the ornamental rhubarb Rheum palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’.
In Spring Lysichiton americanum (Bog Arum) is one of the first plants to appear around the pond with its paddle-shaped leaves and yellow spathes offering welcome colour and a reassuring sign that winter has passed. A new planting of Brunnera alongside the pond together with the Darmera peltata help build on the early momentum of Camellias (C. japonica ‘Debbie’ and ‘Gloire de Nantes’) and Rhododendrons (R. loderi ‘King George’ with glorious trusses of pale pink flowers).
Away from the water Bamboos, choice shrubs and trees (notably Nyssa sylvatica, the Black Gum tree and Stuartia pseudocamellia) are planted to provide height, shelter and deepen the interplay between light and shade, creating a peaceful environment where it is a simple pleasure to sit on the white wooden bench for a moment or two and listen to the bird song.
In 2015 we completed the planting of the area on the far side of the pond – a spot which had until recent times been dominated by a large Cedar. We decided that the main emphasis would be to introduce additional mid to late Summer colour to the Water Garden, and with this in mind, the planting has incorporated the likes of Fillipendula venusta, Sanguisorba canadensis, Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and Lobelia siphilitica to deliver a combination of white, pinks, lilacs and purples intermingled with blue foliage Hostas.