Relax into the early colour of York’s City Gardens

This delightful, multicoloured stroll takes in the early spring flowers in three stunning City Gardens – the Museum Gardens, Dean’s Park and the lesser-known St Anthony’s Garden. Yellow, white and lilac crocuses, pink cyclamen, and purple hellebores are perfectly set off by trees and grand church buildings.

Start in the Museum Gardens and pause to admire the pool of pink cyclamen under the pear-barked beech by the main path from town. Then take a stroll round to the right of the Abbey to a joyful emerging patch of daffodils under some plane trees by the exit to the ‘Edible Wood’. Follow the path out through the ‘Wood’ and you come to Bootham Bar. Walk towards the Minster and turn left into Dean’s Park to relish its splendid multicoloured display of crocuses.

Next, make your way to the back of the Minster, onto Goodramgate, and then left down Aldwark to Peasholme Green. Take a left and, just past Trinity Church opposite the Black Swan, there are a couple of unmarked doors in the wall. These lead to the wonderful secret garden below the Walls that is St Anthony’s Garden.

Here’s a good map of walking and cycling routes around the centre.

Tuning into nature

Find a bench or patch of grass and sit for a while. Take in the bright colours. How do they make you feel?  There’s a glowing feeling that comes with the start of spring, and the thoughts, and memories, of warmer days just ahead. Do you have any spring rituals that you enjoy?

Listen up. All the Gardens have mature trees which attract a myriad of birds and their songs at this time of year, all busy in bushes or singing their hearts out from tree tops. Can you tell your birds apart? How about the great tit with its distinctive two notes, or the melodious robin? Why not have a go to identify birdsong using the RSPB online guide, “What bird is that”? You could listen to it before you leave home, or even when you are there on your phone. 🙂

And do have a read of this lovely, humorous article about listening to birdsong: “A world of sound opens up” – how 10 minutes in nature reaps rewards.


Plenty of buses go directly into town and stop near the Museum Gardens. If coming by bike from the south, cycle in down the riverside path and New Walk, park up along King’s Staith and walk in via Ouse Bridge and Coney Street. If coming by bike from the north, cycle in down the riverside path from Clifton, over Scarborough Bridge and park up by the Perky Peacock cafe. Here’s the York Cycle Route Map.

Accessibility: this route is hard-surfaced all the way and has no steps, steep gradients or narrowing barriers between, into and through the Gardens.

Giving something back

What are you going to grow this year? Here’s a handy guide to planting for wildlife from the RSPB. Make a note to plant some crocuses next autumn – they are an excellent source of early food for pollinating insects. Have a read of a guide to the best spring flowers for pollinators.

Birds still need food and water in early spring – there’s all you need to know from the RSPB. And why not consider a nest box or two this year? Sadly, more birds were listed as of high conservation concern or endangered in 2021, including the once-common house sparrows and house martins.

Finally, our City Gardens are carefully maintained by staff from York Museums Trust, York Minster and York Conservation Trust. The Gardens form an important extension of the City Walls Corridor within York’s Green Corridor Network. This Network is crucial for our city’s trees, plants, wildlife, for biodiversity, for the city’s green health, and for our own.

An idea – take a photo of the Gardens on your visit, and tag the organisation who looks after them on a social media post, with a thank you!

Check out other Nature Time Routes across York through the seasons. Enjoy time in Nature on a green route walk or ride – all year round!

We rely on donations and grants to fund our work towards a healthy, green and kind York. You can donate at

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