Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Himalayan Garden

Rhododendron 'Hille', a remarkably well-spotted hybrid.
With my colleague Jonathan Watkinson, who looks after our garden in Ray Wood at Castle Howard, I visited the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park near Ripon today. It was grey and gloomy, but we were warmly welcomed by Jenny Wells and Hannah Wilson, who are the Rhododendron specialists there. Despite having come from very different backgrounds, and without prior horticultural training, they have both developed an intense passion for and detailed knowledge of the genus Rhododendron - and have an amazing place to develop it in. The Himalayan Garden was started by Peter Roberts when he purchased the property, known as The Hutts, in 1996, and with encouragement from others, started planting rhododendrons en masse in this valley-side site in the Pennines. Evidently starting as a 'one of everything' collection, it has evolved so that there are now large masses of many hybrids and increasing numbers of species, in a garden where other plants are also becoming conspicuous. It may not to be everyone's taste, but it is without doubt a very important collection, and increasing in interest each year as new material is raised in the extensive nursery and planted out. The Yorkshire Arboretum is collaborating with 'the girls' to get some of our rarer material propagated and established at The Hutts, using their specialist propagation skills - young plants will also come back to us when they're ready, and my car is already loaded with some large plants of Rhododendron calophytum that will find a good home in Ray Wood. Thank you, Jenny and Hannah!

A propagation case containing grafted rhododendrons from Ray Wood, with our precious R. lanatoides in the centre.

A pale R. kesangiae

Mixed hybrids from an early planting.

In the lower part of the garden the lake has a floating magnolia flower sculpture, reflecting the collection of magnolias in the garden.

Magnolia 'Felix Jury'

Looking really handsome by the lake was this unusually attractive butterbur, apparently Petasites hybridus.
The curious foliage of R. 'Cheiranthifolium', an old hybrid of R. ponticum.

The dainty but bright flowers of R. baileyi proved very attractive to this bumble bee, as well as ourselves. (It is well worth reading about FM Bailey's remarkable career. )


  1. I love Rhododendrons. 'Hille' is gorgeous and 'Cheiranthifolium' is remarkable. It has a striking resemblance to the tropical R. stenophyllum. That Petasites is quite attractive as well.

  2. johnw in coastal Nova Scotia19 May 2014 at 23:58

    Next nude photo on that floating Magnolia blossom perhaps.....


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