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.

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.

Avon Gorge
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.

Arnos Vale credit Paul Box
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.

Ashton Court Estate
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. 

Blaise Castle Folly
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'.

Wild Place 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.

Brandon HillImage - 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 June until 31 December.

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
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. 

Bowood gardens
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.

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 westonbirt
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

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.

Sudeley Castle
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. 

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Best gardens to visit in and around Bristol


Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral West End

Much more than a fascinating building, being a fine example of a hall church, it is a centre of Bristol's history, civic life and culture.

University of Bristol Botanic Garden
Environmental Attraction
University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Discover over 4,500 stunning plant species, including rare and threatened plants, in this huge University collection

Bristol Zoo Project
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Giraffes at Bristol Zoo Project

Discover a world of animal adventures – right on your doorstep! Bristol Zoo Project is the perfect family day out, with 50 acres to explore. Say ‘hello’ to bears, giraffes, zebras, gelada ‘baboons’, cheetahs, meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs, among many others.

Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate
Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate Bristol

Unique mansion that houses some stunning period costumes and everyday Victorian objects, including model trains, dolls and toys

Ashton Court Estate
Ashton Court Estate Bristol

Historic 850-acre parkland with mansion, two pitch-and-putt golf courses, deer park, miniature railway, orienteering and nature trails

Brandon Hill Nature Reserve
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Brandon Hill Nature Reserve

Brandon Hill Nature Park is located in the city-centre and is a haven for wildlife. During spring and summer there are many beautiful flowers that blossom here in the park, which give the park some colour.

The Red Lodge Museum
Historic House/Palace
The Red Lodge Museum interior

A historic Elizabethan house, with a stunning walled garden and many original or otherwise completely restored features.

Castle Park and St Peter's Church
Castle Park Bristol - St Peter's Church

A picturesque park offering a quiet place to sit or stroll, right alongside the tranquil waters of the city harbour

Berkeley Castle
Aerial shot of Berkeley Castle Bristol

The beautiful and historic Berkeley Castle, situated on the edge of The Cotswolds, was built in 1153 and remains the home of the Berkeley family today. It's a great day-out for all the family, hosting special events during school holidays and throughout the year.

Bowood House and Gardens
Historic House/Palace
Bowood House & Gardens outside

Bowood House & Gardens is the home to the Lansdowne family. Bowood offers a fantastic day out in Wiltshire for all the family. Famous for one of the UK’s most extensive Adventure Playgrounds, children are guaranteed the time of their lives.

National Trust - Tyntesfield
Historic House/Palace
National Trust - Tyntesfield

At its heart Tyntesfield is a Victorian country house and estate, which serves as a backdrop to the remarkable story of four generations of the Gibbs family. Their tale charts the accumulation of wealth from the guano trade, transformation of a Georgian house to a Victorian Gothic masterpiece and the collection of over 50,000 objects.

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum managed by Forestry England, is a remarkable place for people to enjoy and learn about trees.