Planting and Flowers

York Museum Gardens are famed for an incredible collection of plants and flowers.

As a Gold Award winner of Yorkshire in Bloom for the third successive year the gardens are highly regarded in the region.

The botanical collection is spread across a number of themed borders and has recently been updated with a Fern garden and Prairie, Butterfly and Astronomy borders.

Prairie Border

With the colonisation of North America, the native flora of the American prairie disappeared as it was turned into agricultural land. This border features plants from the prairies that were introduced and cultivated in Europe and are much used in gardens today.

Fern Garden

Stones from the abbey church are used to create a fabulous fern garden with a stunning collection of native and non-native ferns. Trees include Gingko Biloba and the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis). This garden also has 300 million year old fossils of plants from the Yorkshire Museum.

Observatory Border

This border is designed around one of the oldest working observatories in the UK. The bed features many plants with starry flowers and others that provide contrasts of light and shade.

Bulb Bank

Thousands of colourful daffodils are flowering on this bank in spring and provide a fantastic display with the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey as a backdrop. The area is kept as a meadow with grasses and wildflowers in summer to provide an excellent habitat for insects, bees, and bugs.

Rock Garden

Built in tribute to the Backhouse family, Victorian nurserymen and plant hunters whose nursery once lay across the River Ouse, this area was created in the 1980s by students from Askham Bryan College using alpines and dwarf conifers among blocks of limestone pavement.

Butterfly Border

This border is planted with a well balanced mix of trees, shrubs and perennials to provide nectar for butterflies, bees, moths and other insects. Butterflies and moths pollinate plants and provide food for birds and bats. The border also contains plants for butterflies to hibernate on.

Oriental Border

This border echoes elements of Chinese and Japanese garden culture. All the plants and trees, rocks and water are chosen, and positioned with great care and have a symbolic meaning.

Story Telling

Planted with herbs, shrubs and cottage plants, this sheltered spot is a tranquil meeting space for schools, families and children. You can sit on the Roman column and tell your children a story.