Writers' block and Harlow Carr

I think I must be experiencing a spot of writers' block, as there's so much I could write about, but nevertheless, I always seem to find something more pressing than updating my blog. Strange, because I just love doing it once I've started a new post, it's just a matter of persuading myself that there's enough time to do it justice.  Am I on my own on this or is it a syndrome other bloggers experience too?

Having said all that, P and I had the most glorious afternoon last weekend at Harlow Carr, the RHS garden in Harrogate, and the pics looked so colourful for this time of year that I couldn't resist sharing them with you.
Fireworks from the dogwoods!
We set out resolutely to blow away the cobwebs on the woodland walk - much too much time spent indoors recently.  I'm always amazed at how much colour you can find wandering along the paths - much thought must go into planning the continuity, there's never a time when I've been there when I can say I've been disappointed by the fabulous plant displays.
Tiny cyclamen coum

I love the red dogwood hurdles and the terracotta rhubarb forcers amongst the snowdrops, all helping keep the interest going.

The witch hazels were truly spectacular - I think the top one is Diane and this massive one above is the species hamamelis mollis

Had to get up close and personal with these gorgeous little beauties - I love all irises, but in the middle of February these are a real treat.
I just adore this mesh teapot-come-leaf-mold-maker and oversized terracotta teacup - as those of you who're regular readers will recognise by the number of times I've photographed them!
The garden's punctuated by lots of comfy seats and benches for resting weary legs, but there's also rustic shelters where peeps like yours truly can sit and contemplate the views.
More red dogwoods with silver birch, one of my fav
associations when wearing my garden designer hat
It's always seemed peculiar to me why red dogwood is called Cornus alba. I suppose it's because of its white flowers, but given that the glowing red wands are its main attraction, you would have thought the botanists might have called it Cornus rubra... no?
Viburnum bodnantense
We finished our ramble by this deliciously fragrant viburnum - fabulous value with both scent and flowers at this bleak time of year.
The visit was rounded off nicely with a late lunch at Bettys, the renown Yorkshire tearoom, that has most recently added a Harlow Carr venue to those in York, Harrogate and Ilkley.  We quickly thawed out when the butternut squash and tomato soup, served with a rosemary and cheese roll arrived - just what was needed -  and the very obliging maitre d seated us alongside the long bank of french windows giving superb views across the garden while we ate.  As we hadn't yet had a celebratory Valentine's Day toast, we decided the wine list was just a tad too tempting, so I decided on a glass of the crisp and fruity house white, while P chose a warming merlot.  
Before departing we decided to share a pot of Earl Grey and a scrumptious chocolate torte, which unfortunately disappeared before I managed to take a pic!
When we got home I noticed this gorgeous camellia in the front garden. Something must have happened to this plant's botanical clock this year, as it's flowered more or less constantly since last May!
Django, who has a very fluffy but fine coat, is feeling the cold at the moment,  'Don't even think of trying to move me from my comfy seat by the fire' - hmmm, obviously feeling bolshy too.

Come back soon, I feel I could be getting in the blogging swing again now!


  1. It's always grand to see a new post from you, Jean, and this one is a beauty, guaranteed to take our minds away from recent snowy, chilling weather.

    What a surprise to see so many plants putting on a show in that clever garden! Harrogate is a grand place and I also remember having tea at Betty's in York, with a Yorkshire friend, years ago. Thank you for bringing me some happy memories.

    I'd also like to tell you how much I admire the colors in your brilliant scarf! Using the variety of colors along with the textured striped design makes for a unique result. It looks grand on your smiling self.

    Best wishes. xo

  2. Reading your lovely comments make it all worthwhile Frances. Just clicked on your name and saw your blog - what a fabulous array of beautiful knits! Hope the weather in NYC is getting better, altho it does make for a gorgeous view from your window - sorry, you must be fed up with people telling you how pretty the snow is x

  3. You're certainly not alone with the resistance to starting a writing project, Jean. I coach writers and teach creative process and I see this "initial inertia" nearly every week. Newton's law is that a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest; likewise, a person not writing tends to continue to not write. An effective and easy solution (for future reference) is to make small commitments -- no more than 15 minutes. It could 10, 5 or even just 2 minutes, whatever is so small, you know you can do it. Of course, you can't complete an entire post in 15 minutes, but you can make an excellent start that will make tomorrow's writing easier to start. You can keep going post the small commitment time if you want. To get yourself started, make the bar so low, you can't help but walk over it.

  4. Many thanks for the good advice Rosanne :)

  5. Thank you for another lovely blog Jean.
    Betty's chocolate torte is GF too!:-) x

  6. Thanks Cathryn, know what to get now when you next come round for tea :)

  7. I'm always amazed, Jean, at how much color and growth there is in England in February! Nothing where I live will move until about mid-April. Your dogwoods appear to be a low-growing ground plant? I have a dogwood tree, but that's about all! Pam x

    1. That's because our dogwoods are stooled (ie cut down) every spring to produce fresh new growth which is colourful. If left the old growth ripens into dull brown. The Cornus family is huge and I suspect your dogwood tree maybe Cornus Nuttalii or a similar one of the native americans that don't have spectacular stems, but are grown for their wonderful flower bracts. We're in Wales at the moment and the hellebores are just to die for! Good to hear from you Pam x


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