Himalayan garden hits heights

Himalayan garden'The Hutts, Ripon
Himalayan garden'The Hutts, Ripon
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There’s an annual blossoming taking place in a quiet corner of Wensleydale.

In a hidden valley near Grewelthorpe, a 20-acre Himalayan garden has become home to more than 20,000 plants including 1,400 rhododendron and 250 azalea varieties and 150 different magnolias. And for the next few weeks, it will be transformed into an incredible world of colour.

All this – and much more – has been created in the last few years, transforming a north-facing area of woodland and virtual scrub into a miniature version of Nepal. Or China. Or Bhutan. And enticing plant lovers to visit in their thousands.

And it’s all because Peter Roberts – the man who was once the driving force behind the Golden Tulip hotel chain – was told that the land around his newly-bought home would provide the perfect site for growing Himalayan plants. They should thrive in the soil and be protected from winds.

And that, as they say, was that. Clearing the detritus of years of unwanted growth began, and in 1998, the planting commenced.

“I knew nothing about gardening,” says Peter. “But I got quite enthused.”

And his enthusiasm has paid off.

The Himalayan Garden, at The Hutts, is a gem in one of the loveliest dales in Yorkshire.

Paths wind up and down through plants which have been grown from seed collected in their native lands. They are sown and germinated by the gardeners at The Hutts, grown on and then either given their freedom in the garden or sold through the site’s nursery.

The species rhododendrons and the like are snapped up by collectors who have the expertise and room to accommodate their charges; the hybrids are more likely to be bought by amateur gardeners wanting a particularly attractive shrub for some corner or container.

Every year, more plants go into the valley overlooking a man-made, and every year Peter commissions contemporary sculptures which he then positions among the trees and shrubs to make the most of the delightful setting.

There are now dozens of remarkable works of art dotted around the 20 acres – another good reason why visitors flock to this secluded spot during spring early summer.

Seeing is believing.

The Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park, The Hutts, Grewelthorpe, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DA, is open daily (closed Mondays except Bank Holidays) until June 17th from 10am-4pm. Admission £6, under-12s free. There is also has a nursery selling nearly 200 different varieties of rhododendron as well as many other ericaceous shrubs and perennials. Visit www.himalayangarden.com