Ness Botanic Gardens

Ness Botanic Gardens was born of one man’s passionate interest in plants and his desire to share that interest with others

The photograph was taken by Sara Bishop, a Ness Gardens volunteer.

In 2019 a major investment was announced for Leahurst and Ness Gardens. Scroll down to Leahurst and click on Appendix to download pdf – 25MB

When the Liverpool cotton merchant Arthur Kilpin Bulley began to create a garden in 1898, part of which he opened to local residents, he laid the foundations of one of the major botanic gardens in the United Kingdom.

Bulley died in 1942, and in 1948 his daughter Lois presented the Gardens to the University of Liverpool with an endowment of £75,000.

The only stipulation was that they be kept as a botanic gardens as a practical and fitting tribute to the memory of her father and they have remained so ever since.

When Ken Hulme was appointed Director in 1957 he spent three decades achieving a more natural setting for the plants. The ornamental gardens increased from 2.4 to 18.4 hectares and superb collections of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Cherries and Heathers were established.

Set on the banks of the River Dee with breathtaking views across to North Wales, Ness Botanic Gardens boasts international repute with the national collection of Mountain Ash (Sorbus) trees.

The gardens are open from 10 a.m., last admission  4 p.m. The botanic cafe is open from 9.30 a.m.


As a contribution to Liverpool City of Culture 2008, Dr John Hill of Liverpool University used a rope, finger counting, and the sun’s shadow to create a model of Stonehenge. Nesshenge has a diameter of 135 feet (as opposed to 360 feet at Stonehenge). He marked out the positions of all the features with wooden sticks. He orientated the earthwork using the sun’s shadow at midday (the shadow indicating north).

Nesshenge represents the transitional period from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. It incorporates the ‘outlying’ Sarsen stones (the Heel Stone, the Slaughter Stone, the Altar Stone and the four Station Stones). He orientated the henge so that it incorporates several astronomical alignments that occur at Stonehenge and also aligned the henge towards a ‘notch’ between Moel Famau and Moel Arthur. Standing at the Heel Stone on the winter solstice (21 December) one can watch the afternoon winter sun setting between the two mountains.

Ness Botanic Gardens