About the garden
The Palace Trust
Hidden within the ramparts of The Bishop’s Palace and surrounded by a moat, lies 14 acres of beautiful, tranquil gardens. Ranging from the historic to the contemporary, there is much to see in this Grade II listed garden. Often described as a “hidden treasure”, and situated in the centre of medieval Wells, visitors also discover the springs rising into the well pools from which the city gets its name.
There is evidence that a garden existed here before Bishop Jocelin began work on the Palace in c.1206, and also a formal 18th-century Dutch-style garden. While little remains of these earlier gardens, they’ve been developed to reflect that historic past and visitors still experience the picturesque and gardenesque style, started in the 1820s by Bishop Law.
Admire specimen trees (including mulberry, tulip and Indian bean trees), flamboyant climbers, bold and luxuriant planting of shrubs (such as Tetrapanax) and perennials, contrasting with the contemporary Garden of Reflection where prairie planting mixes grasses and perennials with a grove of silver birch trees.
A colour-palette of fragrant roses greets visitors in the Phelps Garden where quince trees hold centre stage. Nearby, Bishop dahlias flourish from mid-summer into autumn. In the less formal outer gardens there are luxuriantly planted borders with shade and damp-loving plants such as astilbes, hostas, iris, rheums and rodgersias with inspiration coming from the famous Beth Chatto gardens in Essex. The Wells border, originally planted by plantswoman Mary Keen, is full of shrubs, roses and perennials giving a long season of interest.
In the arboretum there are many fine trees including the highly scented, weeping, silver lime (Tilia ‘Petiolaris’), foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa), the hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica). From February the ground beneath the trees is covered with wildflowers including snowdrops, daffodils, primroses, bluebells, violets, cow parsley, bee and pyramid orchids.