Friday, 28 June 2013

Mottisfont Abbey Rose Garden and a Pair of Grey Wagtails

The Rose Garden at Mottisfont Abbey is one of those rare places that bestows a real sense of wonder and the knowledge that you have witnessed something special and out of the ordinary. Visiting the gardens when the roses are in full bloom is a spiritual experience. It touches your soul and leaves you feeling blessed and a teeny weeny bit emotional if I'm being honest.

As well as the roses (some of which date from 1895 and 1905), there are fluffy peonies the size of footballs, thistles, aquilegia, fox gloves, harebells, lavendar, aliums, nigella, irises and pinks all squashed in together in a riot of wonderful scents and colours. The planting is exquisite. Top marks gardening team!

Ma and I went together on Thursday, our husbands both having made the same small tentative "I'm not all that keen if it's alright with you darling?" type noises. We got there as the gardens were opening at ten and we left at midday, wondering where the intervening two hours had gone. By that time the car park had spread to cover four fields and was still growing and the grounds were starting to fill up, so if you decide to go, go early.


Mottisfont Abbey dates from 1201 when it was built as a Augustinian priory. After the dissolution it survived by being incorporated into a country house and still retains many of its churchy-type features (notably the 13th Century cellarium which is fab and well worth going down in to). 

The area was important long before the Priory arrived because of its natural springs (the "font" which gives the place its name). They rise in the grounds off to one side of the house and have been an important focal point for centuries. Mottisfont has a magical feel to me and I expect the springs are responsible. I always feel cleansed and restored and at peace whenever I've been.


The Walled Rose Garden is in two sections joined by an arch in the old stone wall





































If you need time to gather your thoughts afterwards, the rest of the grounds are lovely to explore; peaceful and tranquil. The river Test flows through them and brown speckled trout can be seen swaying in the shallow waters beneath the bridges. Ancient Plane trees (some enormous- see the pic below) grow on the estate and here and there elegant statues stand surveying the land around them. There is a HaHa (a kind of hidden ditch) which is always fun to discover and pretend to fall into, and there are often displays from local artists, statues etc, in the grounds. There is also a charming river walk that leads out into the fields which currently have mown strips for walking through. Also worth a visit is an ancient ice house in the gardens behind the house (I should be a paid guide!).



Brown speckled trout swimming in the River Test



A HUGE plane tree above, and below the bark close up.
This clever tree absorbs pollution and when the tree has had enough
the bark flakes off all the old contaminated stuff to reveal a clean fresh skin beneath. 


As you'll doubtless know by now, I find it hard to go anywhere without noticing the resident wildlife, and Mottisfont on Thursday was no different. A small crowd had developed on the bridge and when we wandered over to see what everyone was looking at we found these wonderful people. They had a nest in the arches below the bridge and were catching insects to feed their young.

I've never understood why Grey Wagtails are so-called, given that by rights they should be called White and Yellow. Lovely aren't they?




Apologies if you feel I've over done the pics, but as I took over 500 I think I've done pretty well to squash them down to 30! I hope they've given you a sense of the place, but to really understand the effect these gardens have you have to go there.

Friday again, so I'll wish you all a good, productive, restful and contented weekend.

CT x

24 comments:

  1. Absolutely glorious. Walled gardens are so special. Love the wagtails too!

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    1. They are very high on my list of "must haves" as and when we have space!

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  2. Lots of lovely colour in this post, you can't beat an English garden in full bloom :-) I also enjoyed your last post with all that lovely produce in your garden and I share your frustration as regards slugs ! You are also continuing to get some great moths and I loved that Swallow Prominent :-)

    Have a great weekend CT and here's hoping for some fine weather :-)

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    1. Thanks David :-)

      The Swallow Prominent was one of my favourites, so elegant. I read earlier today that the wet spring has been terrible for insects, moths and butterflies. I can't compare moth numbers but I've only seen 3 butterflies in the garden so far this year and about 4 while out walking. Not good :-(

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  3. So much beauty in one place. It is why I love England so much. Reminds me a bit of Hever Castle here in Kent, and Sissinghurst Place of which I am a frequent visitor. Hever has spectacular rose gardens and a beautiful lake with wild garden area.

    It is one of my ambitions to have a walled garden. I love them! I shall add Mottisfont Abbey to my list of places to visit, along with Morville in Shropshire.

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    1. I've been to Hever it is beautiful and would love to go to Sissinghurst too. Mapperton is another place that I come over all emotional about, which reminds me if I haven't already (mind like a sieve) I must do a post on it. I think you'd love it. Meant to ask sooner- how's Andy been this week? Hope all ok now?

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  4. I read about Montisfont in a waiting room in hospital quite a number of weeks ago and also remember you had walked near there. We have been planning to visit there you do make a such a good guide! It looks so lovely in your photos. One of my new followers Selfsewn visited there yesterday too! It must have been difficult reducing the number of pictures down to 30 from 500.
    Sarah x

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    1. I was thinking while writing the post wouldn't it be funny if you saw yourself in someone else's blog pics having visited the same place on the same day- I wonder if Selfsewn is in any of mine?!

      The roses are just about perfect now, with perhaps another couple of weeks or so left in them before they start to fade, so if you're planning a visit this year I wouldn't leave it too long. CT x

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  5. What a beautiful place and the gardens look stunning. Thanks so much for all the lovely pictures. It's lovely when you find somewhere that makes you feel so good. Great to see the wagtails so close up and doing what comes naturally-feeding their young.

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    1. It is a really special place and the wagtails were an unexpected bonus. We get them very occasionally here so it was really lovely to see them.

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  6. HI What a wonderful full post of stunning shots of flowers etc and a wonderful read. there is a lot of hard work goes into making these beds as special as they are. The roses and Peonies are to die for. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks you for sharing. Margaret

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    1. Thanks Margaret :-)
      It is a stunning place and I should think the weeding alone must take several hours every day! Have a lovely weekend too.

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  7. What a beautiful garden with so many gorgeous flowers. The plane tree is magnificant! Love the little Wagtails, too.

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    1. I don't know how old it is but it must be pretty ancient being the size it is. Such wonderful trees :-)

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  8. Wonderful place and wonderful Wagtails. I still haven't managed to capture the pair nesting at the bridge I mentioned!

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    1. We sometimes get the pied versions here and very rarely the odd grey so it was really lovely to be able to watch them for a while and get pictures.

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  9. How I miss the gardens of home :(
    Nothing compares....
    Your pictures are a delight !
    ~Jo

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    1. Hi Jo :-)

      Thanks for your kind comment. Hope I didn't make you feel too sad remembering British gardens, but I'm sure you have amazing things over there that make up for it. :-)

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  10. So many pretty flowers! Peonies remind me of my early childhood because we had a lovely magenta coloured one and every year we would find green crickets, I loved trying to catch them! That tree is massive!! Looks like a wonderful place with lots of surprises :)

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    1. Peonies are fabulous flowers I love them. We've just put two out in the garden I'm hoping for flowers next year :-)

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  11. Your photos are lovely - what beautiful gardens - they look so tranquil and full of colour :)

    Great Grey Wagtail photos too and I love the giant plane tree :)

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    1. Mottisfont is a really special place, so calming and beautiful

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  12. I just found this post of your from last year, as I was searching for some images of Mottisfont's rose garden. Your photos and your description have me all excited, as I will be flying to England tomorrow evening and will be at Mottisfont on Monday! Thank you for the beautiful preview.

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    1. Ooh, you'll love it! I've been to lots of beautiful gardens, but nothing comes close to the roses at Mottisfont. Hope you have a fabulous time- the weather looks good still for Monday.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x