The garden does not contain flowers, which are instead carved into the stone of the capitals, but, divided into four parts, it is an oasis for four “biblical” plants: the fig, the pomegranate, the olive and the palm. The first two plants, the fig and the pomegranate, refer to the Old Testament, as they are considered to be historical. The fig tree is located in the south-east and symbolises the Garden of Eden and therefore the place of creation. The pomegranate tree is located in the north-east, in the garden of the Song of Songs, where the groom meets the bride. For the New Testament, the presence of symbolic plants is notable. The Olive tree, an allegory of Gethsemane and the future Easter, is located to the north-west, while the Palm tree, in the garden of the Apocalypse, is located to the south-west.
Water is a fundamental element of the cloistered space, symbolic of salvation and purification. It flows from the lion and human mouths of the unique fountain, located at the corner between the western and southern aisles, a palimpsest of different stylistic features, into the round basin. The fountain, named after the king, gives the cloister the image of an enclosed garden, an allegory of Paradise.
The aisles, the sides of which form a perfect square, are rhythmically marked by twenty-six ogival arches, supported by 228 smooth, inlaid, coupled columns. The columns’ bases bear motifs of stylised leaves, rosettes, lion’s paws, beasts, men and animals in groups, frogs and lizards. Capitals rest on the columns, decorated and historiated with biblical episodes, followed by scenes from the New Testament and genre scenes, as well as those inspired by medieval symbolism and bestiaries. The sculptural work also alternates figurative decorations with mythological, botanical, symbolic and allegorical themes and floral elements.
Among the scenes sculpted in the capitals, the “dedication” is of great symbolic significance. Mirroring what is already depicted in the mosaic cycle in the apse area of the Cathedral, King William is depicted kneeling while offering and giving the model of the Cathedral as a gift to the Child, seated in the arms of the Virgin Mary.