Clifton and Hotwells Open Gardens: Where to go, highlights and what to expect

This weekend sees the Clifton and Hotwells Open Gardens event take place, allowing the general public access into all sorts of usually closed gardens

This weekend, running both Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June, the Clifton and Hotwells Open Gardens event will be in full swing across various green spaces of the city.

The annual event showcases an area of Bristol that is rich in private communal squares and gardens that lay hidden behind elegant Georgian terraces, and allows the general public of Bristol to step inside gardens that are usually closed to the public.

You’ll also find that many of the gardens offer entertainment and refreshments, so it’s a day that can be tailored to the whole of the family. With around 22 gardens taking place in this year’s event, there are a lot of different styles and types to discover.

How does it work?

But, what exactly happens at Clifton and Hotwells Open Gardens and what can you expect? Tickets for the event are available in advance online at Eventbrite or on the day under the archway on Boyce’s Avenue.

Clifton and Hotwells Open Gardens map

Once ticketed, you have access to all of the gardens and a map can show you the spaces available to see and a suitable route to enjoy them all. The map not only shows you the gardens involved, but also points out areas of interest to look out for, too.

An online version has been created too, which can be accessed here.

In fact, purchasing a ticket allows access to a printed booklet, too, which explains and describes the whole programme of the weekend and gardens involved in detail.

Who’s involved?

So, which gardens and locations are getting involved? Bellevue, The Bishop’s House, Clifton Park and Vyvyan Terrace, as well as Hodgkin House and Manor Garden will be open to the public for a simple garden experience.

At Ambra Vale East and Cornwallis Crescent East you’ll find cream teas to get stuck into. Elsewhere, at Cornwallis Crescent West, Mall Gardens, The Polygon, and Royal York Crescent, there will be entertainment in the form of various different choirs, bands and singers.

Cornwallis Crescent East is a late-18th century garden

Head to Richmond Terrace if a tipple of Pimms and ice cream is on your radar, or St Vincent’s Rocks for drinks and burgers.

For those of you who fancy something with a bit of culture and history to accompany your garden wanders, All Saints has the church to discover, Arlington Gardens has a walking tour and volunteers on hand, St Andrew’s Churchyard has a tree trail and various talks, Clifton Hill House is showcasing Hedgehog Friendly Campus Work and Clifton Hill Meadow will be hosting different wildlife talks.

Which route?

When asked about which route or order was the best to approach the weekend, the organisers of the event suggest that Clifton Village is a good place to start, with it being at the heart of all the gardens.

What are the highlights?

This year, a big highlight of the event is the Clifton Hill Meadow, as volunteers of the West Bristol Climate Action have recently planted and created it.

Clifton Hill Meadow has recently been planted by volunteers

In the summer of 2021, the group ran a public consultation to see whether residents and visitors would like the grassy bank (which is managed by the council and used to be a meadow) to be turned into a meadow, and 99% of over 300 people who replied were in favour.

A crowdfunder to raise money for seeds and plug-plants hit its target within 48 hours. Since then, the council has changed its mowing regime and volunteers organised by West Bristol Climate Action have started to sow and plant 59 species of wildflowers to add to the ones already waiting in the soil.

Another highlight is Ambra Vale East Community Garden, which has won numerous awards including the Royal Horticultural Society’s best community garden in the South West.

Bishop’s House is particularly exciting as it’s in private ownership

Bishop’s House is an exciting addition this year, too, as it’s the only privately owned garden on the list. The large private walled garden has beautiful borders, topiary and other features and the layout has changed little from 120 years ago, when George Oatley lived there.

He was the Architect commissioned by Bristol University to design many of their buildings, including the University Tower.

To keep up to date with the Open Gardens, follow the event on Instagram