The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has appointed Paul Cook as the new curator of RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Paul started the role in September, after moving from Cheshire where he held the post of Curator at Ness Botanic Gardens for more than 11 years. At RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Paul will be responsible for managing and developing the garden’s plant collections and leading a team of 30 horticulturists, RHS trainees and volunteers.
Paul says: “It’s very exciting to join the RHS, as I wanted to be part of an organisation that had long term plans, not just for its gardens, but also for education and helping people get into horticulture as a career.
“RHS Garden Harlow Carr is a wonderful garden, with a lot of potential, especially in the woodland. I’m going to focus on shade planting to create even more year-round interest for visitors. Although I’m thinking about the bigger picture, with long-term plans looking as far ahead as half a century, there will be many new things for visitors to see within the next couple of years, ensuring Harlow Carr remains one of the top gardens in the country and is always special to Yorkshire.”
Paul’s interest in horticulture started at a young age and, following his A-levels, he took a position as a trainee gardener at Arley Hall and Gardens in Northwich, Cheshire. He then enrolled on a three-year diploma course at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he was awarded three prizes from the garden for his various projects, research and lectures.
Following his graduation, Paul lectured at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, before going on to run his own garden-design business. In 1993, Paul returned to Arley Hall and Gardens as Head Gardener where he worked closely with Lord and Lady Ashbrook, the estate owners, for the next nine years, creating a new kitchen garden and restoring a Victorian vinery, before leaving for the curatorial role at Ness Botanic Garden in 2002.
Liz Thwaite, Head of Site at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, says: “With tough growing conditions, dominant natural features and a sustainable approach to horticulture, RHS Garden Harlow Carr is a demanding site to care for, so picking the right person for the role was crucial in order to maintain, and build on, the garden’s high standards. Paul’s creativity, plant expertise and horticultural knowledge will only benefit Harlow Carr; we’re delighted to have him on board.”