Wells Somerset BA5 2PD

Wells, Somerset
14 acres

About the garden

Owned by
The Palace Trust

Hidden within the ramparts of The Bishop’s Palace and surrounded by the moat, lies 5.6ha (14a) of beautiful and tranquil gardens. Ranging from the historic to the contemporary, there is much to see in this Grade II listed garden.

There is evidence that a garden existed here even before Bishop Jocelin began work on the Palace in C.1206, and also a formal 17th-century Dutch style garden. While little remains of these earlier gardens you can still experience today the picturesque and gardenesque style, started in the 1820’s by Bishop Law.

Here you can 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 this is the contemporary Garden of Reflection where prairie planting mixes grasses and perennials with a grove of silver birch trees.

A riot of fragrant roses will greet you in the parterre where quince trees hold centre stage. Nearby, Bishop dahlias flourish from mid-summer into autumn. Cross the moat to discover the springs rising into the well pools from which the City of Wells gets its name.

Here are borders with shade and damp-loving plants such as astilbes, hostas, iris, Rheum and rodgersias with inspiration coming from the famous Beth Chatto gardens in Essex. A long border, originally planted by plantswoman, Mary Keen, is full of shrubs, roses and perennials giving a long season of interest.

In the Arboretum are many fine trees including the highly scented, weeping, silver lime (Tilia ‘Petiolaris’), a foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa), the hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) and Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica). From early February the ground beneath the trees is covered with a succession of wildflowers including snowdrops, primroses, bluebells, violets, cow parsley, bee and pyramid orchids.


Non-member adult £7.99. Please see website for more details.


  • Baby changing facilities
  • Café
  • Children's activities
  • Children's playground
  • Disabled access
  • Disabled facilities
  • Dogs welcome
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Picnics allowed
  • Plants for sale


Opening times

Open daily, 10–6pm (4pm in winter); 7 Jan–22 Dec.

Free Access for RHS Members

Free access applies Fri only throughout open period.

National Gardening Scheme dates

11 Jan-22 Dec 2017


01749 988111


  • Arboretum
  • Herbaceous border
  • Pond or lake
  • Sculpture
  • Sub-tropical garden
  • Water features
  • Wildflower meadow

Plants of special interest

  • Agapanthus
  • Alliums
  • Asters
  • Begonias
  • Bluebells
  • Clematis
  • Conifers
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cut flowers
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Dahlias
  • Ferns
  • Fruit blossom
  • Fruit bushes/trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Heathers
  • Hellebores
  • Hemerocallis
  • Herbs
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Lavender
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Primulas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Spring bulbs
  • Sweet peas
  • Vegetables
  • Wildflowers
  • Wisteria