The best gardens in Somerset to visit

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

5 min read

There are few pleasures so quintessentially English as an afternoon spent in a country garden. Wandering through gardens tended with love and expertise we might discover rose-scented oases of calm in former abbey walls, fantastical shapes of palms in explorers’ greenhouses, and, we hope, a most-welcome cup of tea in a café. We’ve shortlisted seven of our favourite gardens in Somerset. At these gardens you will not only find beautiful flowers and moments of serenity, but from sculpture galleries to farm shops and theatres, you will also discover something to make your stay in Somerset extra-special.

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Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, Wells 

Once a seat of absolute power, the Palace is now a place of peaceful tranquillity and restorative beauty. Enter and find a croquet game being played on the green, picnics being enjoyed under mature trees, and the delicate scents of roses, cornflowers, and lupins passing across your noses. The former kitchen gardens, now the Community Garden, are particularly vibrant and you can spot the volunteer-grown produce from its allotments in the Palace’s café: The Bishop’s Table. The Gardens, the name for the 14 acres of curated ground inside the ancient ramparts, also have an Artist in Residence. Current Artist in Residence, Edgar Phillips, creates stained glass wings that can be found in the garden – echoing the shapes, colours and materials of their gorgeous surroundings. Take part in one of Edgar’s workshops, or attend one of the open-air theatre productions that are a staple of summer at the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens.   

Stay close to Bishop’s Palace and Gardens at Mount Pleasant Farm

The Newt, Bruton

Shaped over the course of 200 years, the gardens at The Newt have seen a long line of talented horticulturalists share their vision of beauty. New gardeners have constantly reinvented and reinvigorated the gardens. Under the care of the Newt’s latest designer, Italo-French architect, Patrice Taravella, the gardens marry beauty and function.  You will find radishes, nasturtiums and strawberries grown in the Newt’s gardens in its farm shop and restaurants. There is also a Roman villa to be unearthed, an apple tree maze in which to lose yourself, and a beekeeping workshop to inspire you, and much more. The Newt truly is a place to delight all the senses.  

Stay close to The Newt at Chapel Studio

Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton 

A mix of Georgian landscaping, framing views of the valley and creating spectacular cascades; Victorian shrubbery, complete with tunnels and water tower; and Edwardian formal gardens, designed by Gertrude Jekyll; Hestercombe reads as a testament to our ever-changing relationship with nature. It culminates in the final contemporary garden reflecting our delight in wild spaces.  Should the plethora of green spaces not prove enough, the historic house is also home to a contemporary art gallery, multiple events throughout the year from music to theatre, workshops and even places to enjoy a sumptuous meal. 

Stay close to Hestercombe Gardens at Bramley Cottage

Yeo Valley Organic Gardens, Blagdon 

Southwest of Blagdon Lake, in deep Southwest England, Yeo Valley Organic Gardens hosts a mix of ornamental and edible plants. The space is evolving constantly and focuses on the seasonal ebb and flow of nature. Not just a pretty space, there’s a range of experiences to be had, there’s the visits to the garden itself, with refreshment from the award-winning kitchen team, or a visit straight to the kitchens for a demo, and then a guided walk. Perhaps awhile spent with their artist in residence? Learning charcoal drawing? Or even cider and cheese tasting? Or even theatre in the grounds? There’s just too much for one day alone, so plan a few visits.  

Stay close to Yeo Valley Organic Gardens at The Dairy at Manor Farmhouse 

The Walled Garden, Mells   

Once upon a time, in the 1500s, this space was a monastery, belonging to Glastonbury Abbey as a monastic garden growing herbs for medicine and study. Now, not such a far cry from its original use, the space is split between a non-profit community nursery – still growing perennials and herbs and farming seeds – and a rambling garden. Today, workshops and seminars take place on the historic grounds, from the many skills required to maintain your own green spaces, to focusing on the therapeutic benefits of spaces such as Mells Walled Garden, combatting loneliness, bolstering mental wellbeing and providing experiences for the young and elderly alike. You’ll find the onsite café undoubtedly to your taste, offering light lunches and even wood fired pizzas – unequivocally the smell you’d want to accompany the floral tones of a summer garden.  

Stay close to the Walled Garden at Hemington Coach House

Lytes Cary Manor, Somerton 

A medieval manor house famed for its Arts and Crafts garden. Save the longer walks through the grounds for a cool day, and if sun drenched – explore the landscaped gardens. Yew hedges separate the gardens into a series of rooms, and you can follow the sound of trickling water to the fountain garden, the sight of strange silhouettes to the topiary garden, and the scent of rosemary to the kitchen garden. In the courtyard you’ll find a second-hand bookshop in the barn and a shop selling beautiful tins of biscuits, we could have taken them all back to our holiday cottage.   

Stay close to Lytes Cary Manor at Etsome House

Hauser & Wirth, Bruton 

You can find Hauser & Wirth’s modern art galleries in Zurich, Menorca, and New York and the Somerset outpost is just as worth exploring. Just on the edge of the village of Bruton, you’ll discover a sculpture garden, gallery, restaurant and farm shop which, belying the gallery’s international reputation, will bring you closer to the environment around you. Discover Henry Moore sculptures in the garden, that take inspiration from monoliths and trees, echoing the landscape around you, and in the converted threshing barns giant structures energise the negative space around them. Return to your holiday cottage with several baskets filled with the fantastic selection of local produce available from the farmshop, Durslade Farm Shop. Likewise, Roth Bar and Grill, promise tempting dishes filled with ingredients sourced from local farmers, gamekeepers and gardeners.  

 Stay close to Hauser & Wirth at Holmwood Coach House

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Old Priory Cottage

Dunster, Somerset

  • From £79 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 2 rooms for 4

Yarlington House

Wincanton, Somerset

  • From £160 p/n
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • 7 rooms for 2 - 4

Sock Cottage

Yeovil, Somerset

  • From £125 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

Ruth loves a good story. Following a decade living in London and working in publishing, her ears are always pricked for a spicy plot twist or unforgettable character. She delights in meeting hosts and discovering the history that brought saffron to her spaghetti, the hiking detours that will lead to temple ruins, and why someone cares so passionately about their special corner of the world. She loves that as a marketer for Sawday’s she can share these stories with others too.
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