THE climes of Yorkshire may not be ideal for the flora of the Himalayas, but one man has made it his mission to cultivate the verdant splendour of that ageless terrain.

It’s been a cold and cruel winter, but, hopefully, we’ve turned the corner and a warm and welcoming spring awaits. Already, snowdrops and crocuses are pushing through the chilly soil, to seek the sun, with a promise of better days to come.

At the Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park at The Hutts, Grewelthorpe, near Ripon, plans are well underway to treat visitors to some wonderful sights, scents and experiences through the early spring and summer flowering, and for the later autumn and early winter displays.

With the addition of a further 12 acres this year – extended to span both sides of the valley - the gardens promise more delights and surprises to see and enjoy, than ever before.

Owners of the estate, Peter and Caroline Roberts, bought the property in 1996, and were inspired by the original plantings of Hybrid Rhododendrons to want to enhance their collection. Peter had no real gardening experience, and, on seeking expert advice, he was assured that theirs were perfect grounds to plant a Himalayan garden.

More than 20 years later, he has established gardens that are amongst the most exotic and glorious examples of their type. The Gardens are widely considered to have the North’s largest collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias. There are nearly 20,000 plants including some 1,400 rhododendron varieties, 250 azalea varieties and 150 different magnolias, along with other rare and exotic plants that you would not normally see in the UK.

And it keeps evolving. When the magnificent gardens open this year, visitors will be able to wander along the paths and admire not only the planting, but the collection of 60 contemporary sculptures, and a newly-created sculpture trail for 2018.

Peter is very enthusiastic by one particular new installation that promises to be a real showstopper.

“We have gigantic chairs carved from 200-year-old Californian redwood trees that have never before been seen in the UK,” he says. “They are quite unique.”

Another new feature this year is by multi-award-winning sculptor and designer Rebecca Newnham, already well-known for the gardens’ magnificent floating magnolia, and 15-metre Wave. Rebecca has created giant lily pads for the middle lake, with each pad a different colour to represent a flower or leaf found in the gardens.

Acknowledging the history of the area, Peter explains that the word ‘Hutts’, in the gardens’ address, is Norse for ‘head of the valley’, highlighting the Viking influence in the region. The plan for 2018 is to replicate a Norse Woodland Hut, exactly how it would have been constructed, using the garden’s own timber.

“There’s a lot going on in the gardens this year as well as exhibitions in the Information Centre and a number of children’s activities, including a discovery booklet to engage children as they wander through the garden," says Peter.

With woodland and lakeside walks, stunning sculptures in wonderfully planted gardens, water features and spectacular views, The Himalayan Gardens are a ‘must-visit’ destination this year.

And if you see something that really catches your fancy, you can check for it in the plant nursery, which sells a wide variety of rare plants, trees and shrubs, many of which feature in the gardens.

The Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park, The Hutts, Grewelthorpe, Ripon, HG4 3DA

  • Website:
  • Telephone: 01765 658009
  • Spring: 30 March to 1 July;
  • Autumn: 6 October to 4 November
  • Open: 10am – 4pm Tues - Sun Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays)
  • Admission: Adult £8.00, children aged 5 and over £1.50, under 5s free; April & Autumn offer: £6.50 per person, children aged 5 and over £1.50, under 5s free Discounted rates to groups of 15 or more.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome.