Welcome to one of the most flowerful places around: Bath. Easily up there with the most beautiful cities in the world, let alone Britain – and there’s plenty for the flower-lover too…
Bath is famous for its hot springs, Roman baths and honey-coloured Georgian architecture. But it also has parks, gardens and flowerful spaces aplenty, and the stunning natural surroundings of the valley of the River Avon.
From the Botanical Gardens at Royal Victoria Park, with its herbaceous borders, shrub roses and scented walks, to the Parade Gardens in the heart of the city with its views of the famous Pulteney Bride and lovely summer bedding displays with three-dimensional floral features, Bath has plenty of flowerful places to offer the flower-fan.
So here’s a guide to seven of our favourite spots in and around Bath, with the accent on the floral….
1. Prior Park Landscape Garden
Now owned by the National Trust, this 18th century landscape garden was designed by Ralph Allen, who sought advice from the poet Alexander Pope and legendary landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Today the gardens offer some pretty poetic panoramas over Bath and the famous Palladian bridge – one of only four of its kind in the world. From the ‘Wilderness’, to a selection of follies and ponds, and access to the Bath Skyline walk with its woodlands and meadows, there is plenty to take in.
In spring you can check out Wild Garlic Month at Prior Park, when you can admire the delicate (if aromatic) white flowers of allium ursinum, also known as ‘ramsoms’. These small white flowers carpet the woodland and you can even choose to take some samples home.
Wild Garlic walk in Prior Park – Image credit
Prior Park can be reached via a short walk from the city centre (albeit involving quite a steep hill) – or if you want to preserve your energy for enjoying the gardens, you can hop aboard the Skyline sightseeing bus.
2. Holburne Museum
The Holburne Museum opened as Bath’s first public art gallery in 1893. Built around the collection of Sir William Holburne, the Grade I listed building houses a fascinating collection of fine and decorative art, including paintings and miniatures by Gainsborough, Stubbs and Turner – as well as many other eclectic findings, from Chinese armorial porcelain, to Roman glass and furniture.
As well as its historical treasures, the Holburne Museum’s Garden Cafe is a particular gem. It has an award-winning, sunlight-drenched new design and it opens out onto the historic Sydney Gardens, Bath’s oldest park. Designed by architect Charles Harcourt Masters in 1795, the park was a popular pleasure garden in the eighteenth century, frequented by the royal family as well as the novelist Jane Austen, who took lodgings opposite the park in 1801 and enjoyed walking among its trees, shrubberies and flower-beds.
‘A Stoneware Vase of Flowers’ by Jan Bruegel the Elder (c. 1607–1608. The Fitzwilliam Museum) – currenly on show in the Holburne Museum’s exhibition Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty.
3. Prior Park Garden Centre
Lenten Roses at Prior Park Garden Centre – Image credit
Located in the heart of the historic city, Prior Park Garden Centre has all the stuff you want from a modern garden centre as well as some surprises, such as the maple corner, which boasts a wide range of stunning Acer japonica of various different shapes and sizes.
Meanwhile, the rose area has an impressive selection of that great blousey English favourite – from hybrid tea, to cluster flowered, miniatures, climbers & ramblers, and including an array of blooming beautiful New English Roses.
There’s also a a farm shop, gift shop and a Secret Garden Café, all family-friendly.
4. The Forester & Flower
This bar, restaurant and B&B was first established as a brew house and coaching inn back in 1870. It’s a nice, friendly, slightly quirky inn, but naturally we’re drawn to the floral theme.
Each of the bedrooms has a flower-inspired name and boasts a range of floral linens, furniture and décor. Choose from the Daisy, the Lily, the Rose, the Pansy or the Iris.
5. Dyrham Park
Dyrham Park garden ponds. Image credit.
Located a few miles outside the city centre, the National Trust-owned Dyrham Park is well worth a visit. The 17th century baroque mansion, garden and deer park are set among 274 acres of beautiful parkland.
Designed for King William III’s secretary of state, William Blathwayt, and originally including a formal Dutch water garden, the gardens were revamped in the late 18th century (by our friend Harcourt Masters), and are Grade II listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The gardens have recently been undergoing a further, 21st-century transformation, under the stewardship of the National Trust, with the redevelopment of the West Garden to include new borders and structural planting, as well as some ‘flavours of the past’.
6. White Hart Inn, Widcombe
If you’re looking for some time out from the tourist trail, the unassuming White Hart restaurant and pub at Widcombe has a relaxed atmosphere and a beautiful secluded walled garden.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s considered by some to be up there with top flowerful places and the best pub garden in Bath. In the Spring and Summer you can enjoy some al fresco dining with a Mediterranean twist, among the lovely flower displays.
7. Kilver Court gardens
If you fancy travelling a little bit further afield to find flowerful places, why not pay a visit to Kilver Court gardens. Created by Ernest Jardine (1859-1947), the gardens started life as a recreational space for the employees of Jardine’s lace-making industry.
Set against the impressive backdrop of the 19th century Charlton viaduct, today the 3.5 acre site sits within a designer village and offers something of a haven for flower enthusiasts. Based around a reproduction of George Whitelegg’s cutting-edge Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal-winning rockery, the impressive display incorporates sandstone boulders from the Forest of Dean and a man-made river and waterfall.
The parterre was redesigned by the Showering family (inventors of Babycham!) in the 1960s, taking inspiration from classic French geometric designs. There is a huge 100m long herbaceous border, nestled in the lee of a giant Victorian viaduct, and the current owners – Roger and Monty Saul – are engaged in an ambitious project to completely redesign it as a colourist border, with a palette moving through wines, reds to silvers, blues, oranges and creams. Sounds amazing!
Here at Freddie’s we think one of the most flowerful places should be your home! Make your home naturally lovely with weekly flower boxes for £22 a pop (with free delivery in Bath!) Sign up here.
Image top: Karen Roe