About the garden
Hidden within the ramparts of The Bishop’s Palace and surrounded by the moat, lies 5.6ha (14 acres) 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, visitors can still experience today the picturesque and gardenesque style, started in the 1820s by Bishop Law.
Here visitors 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 colour-palette of fragrant roses will greet visitors 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, rheums 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.