The Himalayan Gardens

Gardens, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales

Even better than the fact that Himalayan gardens exist here, and just eight miles from our house, is the fact that they’re next to the village of Grewelthorpe.  And if that isn’t the best village name in England, I don’t know what is.

All the same, what are Himalayan Gardens, complete with a sculpture park doing in North Yorkshire?

Twenty years ago, Peter and Caroline Roberts bought a twenty acre woodland garden.  It wasn’t up to much really.  Coppiced hazel, an infestation of Japanese knotweed, dense dark Sitka spruce woods.  Its redeeming feature was a drive of rhododendrons, and this gave Peter Roberts his idea.  He looked at other rhododendron collections at Castle Howard, at Bodnant, at Muncaster Castle, and was inspired.

Rhododendrons such as these must have inspired Peter Roberts. Can you spot the drift of red specimens in the background?

Alan Clark, rhododendron guru and Himalayan plant hunter, told him that both site and soil were ideal: ‘I was intrigued by the idea of creating a Himalayan garden from scratch and decided to give it a go!’

Clark helped him with early specimens, Roberts supported plant-hunting trips to the sino-himalayan area … and the gardens began.

You won’t just find rhododendrons and azaleas though.  There are massed plants that you’ll find in many well-stocked British gardens.  There are drifts of narcissus in the spring.  There are carpets of bluebells.  There are several lakes on site.  Word has got round the bird and insect community that this is a fine place to live, and any birdwatcher or entomologist could have a busy time here. As could visitors who enjoy coming across an eclectic mix of sculptures during their walk.

My photos have disappointed me.  They give little impression of the rich feast of colour provided by hillsides covered in an ever-changing pageant of different varieties of rhododendron and azalea.

Nor can you see that this is a work in progress.  Peter and Caroline Roberts are constantly developing the site, planting and extending the collection.  On Saturday, just after our visit, a new arboretum opened.

Go while you can.  This special place is open for two months only every spring, and for a further couple of weeks in the autumn. It’s worth a detour (Susan Rushton, I’m looking at you).

The Himalayan blue poppy makes its striking appearance throughout the gardens

21 thoughts on “The Himalayan Gardens

  1. What a fascinating place; I’ll never cease to admire the spirit of English gardeners… Create a Himalayan garden in North Yorkshire….. quelle idée 🙂
    Made me think back to my very recent visit of Monet’s Garden in Giverny – one can but admire and wonder at what dedicated and good humans can achieve. Thanks for showing this beauty off – and Margaret, your photos are wonderful but I know exactly what you mean. I thought the same of my Giverny photos. They cannot ever convey what our (inner) eye sees – and that’s also why it’s so important that we take pictures with our eyes and not only with our cameras…. My mother who is blind visited us ONCE when she still saw a few % and she is still asking at nearly every phone call what the garden looks like and asks questions I cannot imagine HOW she would still remember all the stuff (which is no longer, died, had to be cut down, etc)….. A worthy post!

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  2. I think your photos are great! But I know what you mean–pictures can’t capture the total experience. That blue poppy is wonderful and the whole place looks so lush. I had this idea, though, that rhododendrons grew wild in England and were sort of considered big weeds–is that not true?

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    1. In many places – Wales particularly I believe. But many gardens also celebrate rhododendrons and azaleas, as here. It’s a wonderful place.


  3. Beautiful garden and beautiful photos. I agree with the difficulty in capturing the rich, lush quality often found in these types of gardens. It is pretty impossible to ‘bottle the essence’ isn’t it, but maybe that’s just as well otherwise we might not visit for the full experience – sounds, smells and the soft moss and leaves under foot.

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  4. Thanks for the heads up! I was making a mental note to add it to my to-visit list as I was reading this post and admiring the pictures.


  5. In a world that is so often crazy these days what a refuge for the senses this garden looks- thanks for sharing. I like the idea that word has spread around the bird and insect world that here is a refuge for them as well😊

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  6. This looks a wonderful place! Your photos are very good, but I understand what you mean. I also find my photos are inadequate to portray the scope, the size, depth, height of scenes I see. I have pictures taken in the Alps where I was overcome by the vastness of the mountains but the photos make them look so paltry and two-dimensional.


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