DAVID Williams-Ellis's dramatic new sculpture, Sunrise, is taking centre stage in a newly restored lake at the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park at The Hutts, Hutts Lane, Grewelthorpe, near Ripon.

This work by one of the world’s leading figurative sculptors will be among more than 60 exhibits in the sculpture collection, open to the public from this week to June 14 after a major development programme in the gardens during the winter.

New paths have been created and seating added to enhance the woodland walks and views of the gardens, which draw 10,000 visitors each spring to see not only the sculptures but also the North’s largest collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias.

Among the 20,000 plants are 1,400 rhododendron varieties, 250 azalea varieties and 150 different magnolias, all set in a beautiful valley. Exotic varieties now flourishing include Schefflera Impressa from Northern India, a Daphniphyllum macropodum from Korea and a Catalina Ironwood from California.

The improved nursery has around 200 different varieties of rhododendron, as well as many other hardy ericaceous shrubs and perennials.

Taking charge of the gardening team is Jens Nielsen, who has nearly 20 years experience as a propagator and gardener. His previous post was as head gardener at Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, a National Trust of Scotland property that is home to three national collections of rhododendron.

Peter Roberts, the owner and driving force behind the Himalayan Gardens, says: “I'm delighted that Jens – whose gardening expertise and plant knowledge are widely known – has joined our team. A lot of work has gone on over the winter months to further develop and re-shape the gardens for the 2015 season and I'm sure all our visitors will appreciate the changes and improvements. This year, in particular, we have some beautiful early flowering magnolias.”

The Himalayan Gardens are open Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays, 10am to 4pm. Admission is £7.50, children under-12 free; light refreshments are available.