Now that spring is finally showing signs of sticking around, it’s the perfect time to venture out of hibernation and see Bristol’s beautiful gardens in bloom. From tiny Knot Gardens hidden behind tall Georgian town houses, to unforgettable estates in rolling countryside, here are our pick of Bristol’s best gardens...

The University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Not far from the vast green expanse of The Downs, you’ll find this beautiful garden filled with a huge diversity of plants set against the backdrop of a handsome Victorian house. The 1.77 hectare garden tells stories about plant evolution and is home to four core plant collections: Evolution, Mediterranean Climate Regions, Local Flora and Rare Native Plants, and Useful Plants. Large glasshouses display exotic plants including cacti, orchids and a sacred lotus collection.

The tropical pool at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, credit University of Bristol Botanic Garden
Image - University of Bristol Botanic Garden

The Avon Gorge

At one end of the spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge is a display of the rare plants that grow in the Avon Gorge. Over 30 kinds of nationally scarce plants grow in the Gorge, making it one of the top botanical sites in the UK.  Some of its Whitebeam trees grow naturally here and nowhere else on Earth and it’s the only place where Bristol rock-cress and Bristol onion grow wild in the UK. Here’s another fact for you… the bridge’s designer, Victorian engineer and Bristol hero Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was even instrumental in saving a special plant himself – the Autumn Squill. A lady named Mrs Glennie noticed the plant growing on the site of the bridge and spotted that the construction was going to destroy it. Brunel halted building and had his workers move it to another site. It is still growing in the gorge to this day.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, hot air balloons and Observatory from above - credit Angharad Paull
Image - the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge

Arnos Vale Cemetery

Explore 45 acres of fascinating nature trails, historic monuments and memorials in this Victorian garden cemetery just outside the city centre. You can also book on to regular tours to find out more about some of the local wildlife and tales of the cemetery's memorials.

Aerial view of Arnos Vale Cemetery
Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery, credit Paul Box

Ashton Court Estate

This sprawling parkland is just minutes from the centre of Bristol and offers sweeping views across the entire city. The site of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta since 1979, the estate is popular with mountain bikers, dog walkers and horse riders. The formal sunken gardens beside the mansion house are lovely in spring when hundreds of daffodils line the walkways and 160 species of rose give off a heady scent around the rose garden.

Aerial view of Ashton Court Estate  - Credit Jon Chamberlain
Image - Ashton Court Estate

Blaise Castle Estate

Blaise Castle Estate’s impressive 19th century mansion house (now a museum) is surrounded by 400 acres of parkland, dramatic gorge and a folly castle which featured in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. You'll also find ‘evidence’ of Bristol’s mythical Giants, Goram and Ghyston in the grounds – seek out Goram’s Chair, soap dish and ‘tantrum’ footprint. Hidden behind the walls of the estate, Blaise Community Garden, established in the 1800s, is affectionately known as the Secret Garden. Here you'll find three community-nurtured beehives, set up by one of Bristol's top 10 green businesses (according to The Guardian), Bee the Change. 

Folly castle in park
Image - Blaise Castle Folly

Bristol Zoo Project

There’s more than just exotic animals like lemurs, meerkats, giraffes and grey wolves to discover at Bristol Zoo Project. There's over 50 acres of outdoor space to explore, including several play areas. There’s also Tower Meadow, a large green space perfect for picnics and letting kids run around in, with the Hollywood Tower at is centre. The tower’s clock was made by Dent who constructed 'Big Ben'.

A brown bear at Bristol Zoo Project - credit Bristol Zoo Project
Image - Bristol Zoo Project

Bristol Cathedral Garden

The serene and award-winning gardens beyond the Cloister of Bristol Cathedral are just as heavenly as the vaulted ceilings, exquisite chapels and tranquillity inside. Surrounded by colourful, scented blooms and elegant sculptures it’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city. Pop into the Cathedral’s Courtyard Café for one of their very good value and extremely delicious cakes to enjoy in the gardens on a sunny day.

Brandon Hill Nature Reserve

Managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust, Brandon Hill is in the very heart of Bristol just off one of its main independent shopping areas – Park Street. It’s a haven for wildlife and wildflowers and the views across the city from the terrace and the top of Cabot Tower are stupendous. The meadow is full of cowslips in spring and ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle and knapweed in summer. Look out for frogs, toads and newts in the pond or for birds and squirrels darting between the trees in the woodland.

Aerial view of park
Image - Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill, credit Paul Box

The Red Lodge

The Red Lodge is an historic Elizabethan house tucked away near on Park Row near Bristol’s busy shopping area, Park Street. One of the Lodge’s finest features is the little walled garden. In the centre, is an Elizabethan-style knot garden, showcasing an intricate design which reflects plasterwork ceilings in the house. The surrounding borders are filled with plants which would have been found in English gardens before 1630. The garden is at its best in late May/June when the roses are in bloom. Red Lodge is open to the public four days a week from April until 31 December.

Child playing in the Tudor knot garden at The Red Lodge Museum in Bristol - credit Visit West
Image - Tudor knot garden at The Red Lodge Museum

Berkeley Castle

The Berkeley Castle Estate spreads over 6,000 acres in Gloucestershire’s Berkeley Vale. The castle has been home to the Berkeley family for over 800 years and is surrounded by terraced gardens that specialise in scent - the roses are particularly splendid in June. Rare plants, shrubs and trees can be found here too, as well as a gorgeous lily pond (originally built as a swimming pool during the time of the last Earl and his American Countess) and the Great Lawn. The views across Berkeley Vale are breathtaking.

Berkeley Castle and grounds
Image - Berkeley Castle

Bowood House and Gardens

This fine stately home is set among one of ‘Capability’ Brown’s most beautiful parks, which contains a fabulous collection of trees and shrubs. The gardens include lawns gently sloping to the twinkling waters of the lake, against a backdrop of chalk downs. Garden highlights include the Cascade, Doric Temple, Terrace Gardens and a huge adventure playground for children with pirate ship. Visitors can also book a guided tour of the 4-acre private walled garden at the rear of the house. 

Tulips in the garden at Bowood House - credit Bowood House
Image - Bowood House & Gardens 


Almost unchanged since 1900, the characterful gardens at the National Trust’s Tyntesfield Estate offer long views across the rolling parkland and Yeo Valley. Romantic gazebos in the rose garden, a pristine croquet lawn and the produce-rich kitchen garden are wonderful to roam around. In summer, more than 10,000 plants in the beds are a colourful contrast to the spectacular Victorian Gothic Revival house above. In December you can see the estate after dark when the paths, trees and gothic house are lit up in colourful lights.

South Facade at Tyntesfield - crediy National Trust Images-John Millar
Image - Tyntesfield

Westonbirt Arboretum

Visit one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the world, on the edge of the market town of Tetbury in the Cotswolds around 25 miles from Bristol city centre. Managed by the Forestry Commission, Westonbirt Arboretum is magical whatever the season. The Acer Glade in the Old Arboretum is renowned as one of the best spots in the country for autumn leaf peeping, full of blazing ambers and fiery reds (October is usually the best month). It’s a riot of colour in spring too,  when the rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas come into bloom and a sea of bluebells covers the forest floor in Silk Wood (spring colour from March to May). Head to the treetop walkway for soaring views from the tree canopy.

Walkway in the forest at Westonbirt - credit Paul Groom
Image - Westonbirt Arboretum 

Dyrham Park

The walk (or shuttle bus!) down to this beautiful 17th-century mansion, garden and deer park has spellbinding views towards the Severn Valley and Welsh mountains. A herd of around 200 fallow deer roams freely among the 270 acres of ancient parkland. Visitors can get closer to these majestic creatures as part of the winter deer feed between December and March. The elegant West Garden boasts year-round colour from the colourful planted borders, wildflower orchard, mature trees and the picturesque Upper and Lower Pools. Pick up a take-away afternoon tea from The Courtyard Tearoom and relax in the beautiful gardens. Look out for daily tours depending upon the season. 

Dyrham Park mansion house and grounds

Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Follow in the footsteps of past kings and queens including Richard III, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Lady Jane Grey by wandeing the extensive grounds and award-winning gardens at Sudeley Castle. It is also the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds - Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives.

Queens Garden at Sudeley Castle - CREDIT to Xander Casey
Image - Sudeley Castle

Barley Wood Walled Garden

Set in gorgeous North Somerset countryside, Barley Wood Walled Garden is a lovingly restored Victorian kitchen garden built for Henry Herbert Wills and his family in 1901. Blossoming fruit trees and wildlife-friendly plants in the borders are rich with colour in summertime. Beautiful views further gaze out towards Wrington Vale and the Mendip Hills. Events are regularly held in the garden and orchard, including the popular annual Wassail and summer solstice events. 

Read more:


Pin it for later:

Best gardens to visit in and around Bristol - Pinterest