FLOWERING plants from the Himalayan mountains are helping visitor numbers to peak at a hidden gem in the Yorkshire Dales.
The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park in Grewelthorpe, near Ripon, boasts almost 20,000 plants - many from the region which is home of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.
And the colourful spectacle is in full bloom this month.
It has the north’s largest collection of rare rhododendrons, with 1,400 varieties, plus 250 types of azaleas and 150 different magnolias.
Set within 45 acres in a beautiful valley, inspired by the Himalayas themselves, it is also home to more than 80 contemporary sculptures.
TICKETS: The park is now open until July 14, then re-opens October 5 to November 3, opening hours 10am to 4pm, Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays. Entry is £9 per adult, £4 per child, aged five to 15 years and under fives are free. Individual season tickets are £20; individual and guest season ticket £40. Buy at www.himalayangarden.com.
Owners Peter and Caroline Roberts originally bought the property in 1996, as a privately owned 20 acre woodland garden.
They set about creating a Himalayan landscape on a huge scale with the help of Alan Clark, an eminent Himalayan plant hunter.
With a taste for rarer and more unusual varieties and species they supported plant hunting trips to the Asian mountain range.
Visitors to the garden will see many plants growing with wild collection numbers.
Some of the grounds were coppiced Hazel woodland with an infestation of Japanese Knotweed, whilst other parts of the site were dense, dark woods of Sitka Spruce.
The original plantings of Hybrid Rhododendrons along the drive prompted Peter to visit other Rhododendron Gardens including Bodnant, Ray Wood at Castle Howard, Hooker Hall and Muncaster Castle & Gardens.
Inspired by these gardens, and his love of art and sculpture, he set about the challenging task of transforming his grounds into what it is today.
The Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park is enhanced by three lakes and a number of features including a Himalayan shelter, pagoda, summerhouse, decorative bridges and a contemplation circle, consisting of five chairs carved from Giant Redwood.
The sculptures have been chosen and positioned within the landscape in a way that relates to everything around them; the weather, light, vegetation and the close and long-distance views.
It is an active relationship, with each sculpture focusing, intensifying and animating its environment. The planting and other features of the park and woodland area, are there to enhance the sculptures,
Six unique sculptures by Subodh Kerkar, the Founding Director of the Museum of Goa, are among the new attractions for 2019, alongside a Norse Shelter and a project by local sculptor Anna Whitehouse who, as visitors watch, will be finishing her unique sculptural spheres, inspired by pollen grains and clay collected from the park.
A log cabin tearoom serves a range of hot and cold drinks, a variety of food options, snacks, cakes and tray bakes. A woodland playground provides entertainment for the children, and a well stocked nursery has mementos.
Dogs are welcome if kept on a lead.