BIOGRAPHICAL ARBORETUM LITTLE MESOPOTAMIA (BALM)
Nature and Nurture
The objective of BALM as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is to promote for the public benefit the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment through planting, care, nurture and cultivation of trees both indigenous and
The land, named Little Mesopotamia, amounts to 12 ½ acres (5 hectares) and consists of three fields: Tail Head, Tail End and Bank Hill, enclosed by two becks (streams).
Little Mesopotamia is not intended to be a public park, even though a public footpath passes through two of the fields, as this would be counter to the intention of creating a nature reserve with pasture for sheep.
Little Mesopotamia does not aspire to be a carefully manicured garden. The plantations are managed to provide an environment to encourage wildlife, with hedges and piles of wood; most of the grass is not cut until late July, and once again in September/October. However some sections are more conventionally horticultural than others.
The Biographical Aspect
BALM is the imaginative creation of Thomas Tuohy, achieved with the practical and active collaboration of Philip Braithwaite.
Conceived in 2001 as an experimental botanical collection within a landscape setting, intended for environmental and ecological benefit, it was also intended as a memorial to various groups of people encountered in the second half of the Twentieth Century, many of whom sustained or were at least familiar with the Classical Tradition. This is reflected in the names applied to gates and enclosures.
The name chosen for the site, Little Mesopotamia, derives from the Greek Μεσοποταμία, ‘land between rivers’, first applied to the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, but also adopted for a feature of the Parks at Oxford. The epithet Little is intended as a nod to the imaginative creation of John Hamilton Finlay at Little Sparta at Dunsyre, in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh.
Since 2013, following advice in environmental management offered by DEFRA the site has been managed to protect and conserve plants and habitats for wildlife, and to promote biodiversity. For this purpose BALM was recognised as a CIO in October 2019.
2024 Opening Times
During the Spring of 2024 we will be open for guided tours on
Thursday 21st March at 2.30pm
Friday 22nd March at 2.30pm
Tuesday 23rd April at 2.30pm
Thursday 25th April at 2.30pm
Tours will commence in the Beckermet village car park
opposite the White Mare public house.
The charge for the tour is £5 per adult, payable in cash to your guide. Booking in advance via this website ONLY is essential. See our Contact, Booking and Directions Page for more information.
Under 18’s are very welcome but must be accompanied by a responsible adult family member. There is no charge for under 18’s. The small fee we charge helps toward the site maintenance.
All visits will be guided by our Trustees. We can accommodate a maximum of 20 people on the day, split into two groups if necessary. The full tour is expected to take 1.5 to 2 hours.
In future, adults (e.g. teachers) wishing to bring parties of children should contact us separately via email at least two weeks in advance.
The Little Mesopotamia land is undulating part woodland, part sheep pasture, with natural unpaved paths throughout. There are no amenities. Visitors should prepare accordingly. Sturdy walking boots and outdoor clothing are recommended, although the walking is by no means difficult.
Access to the land is currently via a short flight of sandstone steps.
There is no wheelchair access.
In the interests of both wildlife and sheep, dogs are not permitted on the land.
If you need to contact us at any time prior to your visit please do so using the form
on our Contact, Booking and Directions page.