Famous for historical landmarks such as the York Minster and the famed city walls, the city of York is a feast for the eyes and senses. Occasionally you need a dose of nature when you’re urban living, and this city doesn’t disappoint, with a selection of perfect parks and must-visit gardens. Our local insiders have scoured the meadows, lawns and shrubbery of York to find the best just for you.
Green fingers delight at Breezy Knees Gardens. Spread across 20 acres, you’ll find over 6,000 species of plants. In summer the gardens are a riot of colour and scent, from the special collection of iris and peonies in the Rock and Share Garden to the fragrant petals of the Rose Garden. The gardens are designed so there is something spectacular in bloom from May to September. Make a trip of it and take a light lunch in the on-site cafe, and don’t forget to browse the nursery so you can create your own Breezy Knees at home. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
With open grassy areas for ball games and a busy play area with specially designed equipment for those with disabilities, Homestead Gardens offers a respite for all. Beautifully maintained and home to a huge array of flowers, birds and insects, it is a haven for wildlife lovers. There aren’t too many options for lunch nearby so bring a picnic along; the park does serve up ice creams and coffees that hit the spot though. Culture Trip’s local insider recommends losing track of time in the wildflower garden and walking down the tree-lined avenue pretending you are in a Jane Austen novel. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
Take a step back in time in this traditional arts and crafts house, formerly owned by the Terry’s family famed for their chocolate. You won’t find a Chocolate Orange here, but you will find a homely yet grand house where members of the public are warmly welcomed – you even get to pour yourself a sherry in the dining room. The gardens are well kept and offer a green oasis just next door to York’s famous racecourse. Intricate water features, rockeries and hidden paths can be wandered, and there is also a bowling green, tennis court and greenhouses used to this day by the gardening team. A very pleasant day out. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
Eco-enthusiasts Vanessa and John Cook have been nurturing this garden for over 40 years; the love and attention they have shown it is clear. Described as the quintessential English garden, the grounds feature a wildlife pond, a wildflower meadow and a vegetable garden. Using organic methods and with all decisions made with nature at the forefront, the garden is a fabulous example of sustainability and making the most of a small place. The nursery is well-stocked and they offer workshops so you can recreate your own slice of Stillingfleet at home. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
You would never know that St Nicks – as it is affectionately named by locals – was formerly a landfill site. The 24 acres have been painstakingly transformed by a charity into an ecological wonder near the centre of York. Known as the green heart of the city, the nature reserve thrives with areas of meadow, scrub, woodland and grassland. Wildlife has flourished here with many species of birds and butterflies enjoying the area. Visit the centre on-site to learn about their sustainability values, ecotherapy and green living. Recommended by local insider David Taylor