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Thorp Perrow Arboretum
How To Find UsYou will find Thorp Perrow Arboretum on the Bedale to Ripon road, just south of Bedale, North Yorkshire, some 4 miles from Leeming Bar on the A1.
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Visitor InformationWheelchair Bookings
The Arboretum is accessible to wheelchairs. Disabled toilets are available at the tearoom and the Bird Centre. Electric wheelchairs are available (at a charge of £1) but must be pre-booked.
We welcome dogs in the arboretum but they must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted in the Bird Centre or Mammal Centre, however facilities are available there to secure them safely.
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Garden InformationThorp Perrow Arboretum is one of the finest private collections of trees and shrubs in the country. This 85 acre arboretum is unique to Britain, if not Europe, in that it was the creation of one man, Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner (1895 - 1977) and is now owned and managed by Sir John Ropner.
Situated in the Yorkshire Dales, not far from the historic town of Bedale, Thorp Perrow is an exciting place to explore offering something for everyone, and is home to some of the largest and rarest trees and shrubs in England. There are tree trails, a nature trail and a children's trail, a large lake, picnic area and children's play area. The Arboretum also embraces the Milbank Pinetum planted by Lady Augusta Milbank in the mid-nineteenth century, and the medieval Spring Wood dates back to the 16th century.
Thorp Perrow provides interest all the year round. In the spring you can witness one of the finest and most extensive plantings of daffodils in the north of England, including some old and unusual varieties. This is followed by many of the trees covered in blossom, carpets of bluebells and bold drifts of wild flowers. Midsummer brings evenings theatre events, children's trail throughout August and newly planted hydrangeas will be in their full glory. Later in the year the autumn provides stunning colours. The grass paths through the Arboretum are mown regularly, but other areas are mown once a year to provide an ideal habitat for the many wild flowers, fungi and insects that you can see.
HistoryThe Thorp Perrow Estate was bought by my grandfather, William Ropner, in 1927. Born in 1864, he was the third eldest of ten children. His father, Sir Robert Ropner (1838 - 1924), had come over from Germany in 1857 and founded the well known fleet of merchant ships that carried the family House Flag for over 100 years.
My father, Sir Leonard, was 32 years old when the estate was bought and it was very soon afterwards that the planning and planting of the Arboretum began. I have no idea where this great love for trees came from - I often joke that I wish he had collected French impressionist pictures! But no such luck.
I think that one of the nicest things about Thorp Perrow Arboretum is its slightly 'amateurish' atmosphere. It was after all designed and cared for by a man with no previous arboricultural experience - and this I may say remains the case today!
The Arboretum was my father's 'Secret Garden' - he was extremely proud of it but towards the end of his life it had become sadly neglected. Upon his death in 1977 I was faced with the problem of what to do with these 85 acres. I asked Alan Mitchell, (the famous dendrologist), to come and advise, and when he re-emerged from the jungle he said in no uncertain terms that the collection should be preserved at all costs. Financial help was required and we were fortunate to get a grant from the Ministry of the Environment - on the condition (quite rightly!) that the Arboretum should be open to the public. The rest, as they say, is history. Much sweat and toil with invaluable advice from several Curators has produced what you will find today.
We are lucky today to have a brilliant team working for us and enlarged family who all come and enjoy Thorp Perrow.
The GardensThe Arboretum is laid out in Sections, and identified as Section A to Section Z, plus Milbank Pinetum, and Spring Wood. Each Section inter-connects with its neighbour via paths, grass walks, glades, bays, or avenues. A walk around the Arboretum can be a journey of plant discovery that takes you around the continents of the world; with many of the tree and shrub genera and species planted having origins in China, Japan, North America, Chile, and Europe.
During the early summer of 2004, 67 trees within the arboretum were recorded and designated as "Champion Trees" by The Tree Register of the British Isles.
National Collections'National Plant Collections' ® held in the Arboretum
The Arboretum currently is home to five 'National Plant Collections' ® held under the auspices of garden plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, formerly known as NCCPG.
Juglans spp.- Walnuts, Fraxinus - Ash excludes excelsior cvs., Tilia spp. - Limes, Laburnum SPP & CVS and Cotinus.