Yorkshire gardens and sculpture park reopens - with social distancing measures in place

Yorkshire’s award-winning Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park has reopened with social distancing rules in place.
Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture ParkHimalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park
Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park

Naomi Hutchinson, operations manager at the gardens, said: “We believe that being outdoors and in beautiful gardens is restorative and important for people’s wellbeing.

"It can be a source of much-needed tranquillity in these super anxious times, and with 45 acres, the Himalayan Gardens offers the open space needed.

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"We are however mindful that the safety of visitors and our staff is our number one priority. We’re pleased to welcome visitors and that they won’t miss out on the final blooms of spring, but our re-opening depends on all following the social distancing rules.”

More than 80 outdoor sculptures are set in the open-air gallery that sits in a tranquil valley. The gardens feature works by internationally renowned artists, all inspired by nature. It is also home to the North’s largest collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, with nearly 20,000 plants.

Science has proven a simple walk in the outdoors can help minimise stress, improve your mood, and your mental and physical wellbeing.

Actress Joanna Lumley is a patron of the gardens, and called them a ‘slice of paradise’: “My Kashmiri-born heart jumps with joy to think of its existence,” Joanna said. “Gardens are the greatest healers on earth, and as our stressful anxious lives tie us up in knots we may turn to the sweet silence of the great green earth for solace.”

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Naomi said: “Thankfully, our attraction benefits from being in the great outdoors with plenty of space. Our gardens have always been about enjoying the sunshine, taking a break from social media and world news, as a space to relax and enjoy the thousands of flowers which have bloomed - a sight I think all of us need right now.”

Although set in the great outdoors, the gardens have implemented additional staff training and measures, in light of the current environment, to ensure key points such as the visitors’ entrance and toilet facilities are safe.

The team at the gardens have used natural materials to make its one-way systems and safe distancing signs stress-free and to fit with the landscape.

“We have a clear one-way system at entrances and exits. There will be some no entry signs to stop people crossing paths. We’ve used stones and plant pots as social distancing markers, with wooden signs to keep it natural. There will be social distancing for the public toilets, and visitors will have to buy tickets for a specific day in advance, from the website, with visitor numbers being limited each day. Plant purchases can be made via card contactless payment.”

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The gardens will also have a plant sale area, but its tearooms will remain closed for the first week.

Naomi said: “We’re closely cohering to government guidelines and monitoring any changes in advice, and we expect the tearooms will open soon for take-away refreshments, but in the meantime, visitors should bring some water / refreshments. In these troubling times, we welcome visitors to boost their spirits. Our aim is to remain a place where people can come and safely enjoy the fresh air in a restorative environment.”

The gardens in Grewelthorpe near Ripon were donated in 2012 to a Charitable Trust, the Hutts Foundation, by Peter and Caroline Roberts. The charity aims to advance the arts, horticulture and the environment, including the cultivation of rare and endangered plants.

Recently, the attraction has won national acclaim. Shortlisted for the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2020, the gardens featured on BBC Countryfile’s autumn special last year, and were winners of the Yorkshire in Bloom Tourist Attraction Award in 2018 and 2019.

The Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture park is open now until November 1, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

For tickets online please visit www.himalayangarden.com