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.