Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Walled Rose Garden Of Mottisfont Abbey

It's Rose Time of the year again, which means yesterday was the Annual Pilgrimage to Mottisfont.

It's nearly a year to the day since Ma and I last went (abandoning our husbands- much to their relief), and to be really honest, the roses are now past their best, but it is such a spectacular garden stuffed full of so many beautiful plants all within the most fantastic old walled garden setting that it didn't really matter.

The walled rose garden at Mottisfont is (to put it Quite Simply) a Mind Blowing Experience, and if you haven't been before, you must go (but next year now, before they start to go past their best). It houses the National Collection of old fashioned roses designed and planted by horticulturalist Graham Stuart Thomas. When Thomas was looking to retire in 1971 he wanted a place to put his roses, a collection he had drawn from all round the world. The tenant at Mottisfont was leaving and the walled kitchen garden became available. It is a perfect place for them. Roses that only bloom once had fallen out of fashion at that period, but Thomas reinvigorated a nation's love for them, as is evident in the number of visitors who come to see them here every June.

Mottisfont (which is only open March through to October) gets a little under 220,000 visitors a year and many of these come at Rose Time. Being local, Ma and I were there at the opening of the doors at ten and made good our escape a little after twelve and so avoided the crush. At some points it felt like we almost had the gardens to ourselves......bliss.

I'll let the pictures do the talking......there are Quite A Lot because it is impossible to whittle them down to a handful, so if you enjoy gardens, flowers and roses I expect you will be oohing and ahhing over them every bit as much as we were.

This year, with all of you lovely people in mind, I remembered to get names for most of the roses featured. Some of them date back to the 1880s.

Baron Girod De Lain
Petit De Holland
Honorine De Brabant
Shaliers White
Lady Stuart
These beautiful yellow roses decorate the forecourt and I couldn't find a label with their name on. They had a very delicate perfume and a profusion of flowers
These were in the courtyard and also didn't appear to have a label. They look like a very traditional English rose to me.


Ernst Calvat
It isn't just roses in the garden; Thomas planted them among herbaceous plants which really show the whole thing off to perfection. There are two main gardens connected by a door through the brick wall and the inner one has a timeless quality about it that makes it feel different to the outer one. I could wander in the inner garden all day. It feels special, removed from the everyday world. A place of magic. 

In both gardens, mature trees sweep majestically over the walls in various places, lending areas of shade and coolness on a boiling hot day, and there are pergolas and trellises dripping with climbing roses and pretty archways, fountains and brick pathways among the lawns and walkways.......

Archway to the Inner Garden

The Inner Garden

It's like a secret waiting to be discovered.....

More from the inner garden

Mature horse chestnut in the back ground

This shot was taken in the outer garden

Lavender edging the inner courtyard garden

Rose arbor walk in the outer garden

Flowers, flowers everywhere....

Salvia tumbling up through the roses. I love the vibrancy of the purple against the delicate wash of pink.

The Outer Garden. Imagine the scents that waft over that house on the other side of the wall at night....

Wheelbarrow...good to see even the smartest, most graceful and elegant gardens are happy to show evidence of the level of hard work that goes in to maintaining them :-)

The Peonies at Mottisfont are just incredible. I remember them from last year, all huge and light and fluffy, and they were the same this year too. I love peonies.....

Well named
More evidence of labour....

Some kind of lily? The name escapes me...
*thanks to Jessica at Rusty Duck: this is Lilium martagon var. album.  

Papaver. There were several in the garden, some of the darkest purple and some these beautiful washed lilac.

After a while you feel a little over-loaded in the sensory department, and then it's good to be able to wander down along the cool, gurgling river where the spotty trout weave against the current. I looked for voles (of course) but the edges here have been improved and the water flows too fast so there were none. However, earlier in the day while walking the doggy people I did see my sixth vole nibbling some grasses by the bank of the Test further upstream.

A sign down by the river which I heartily approve of....

A shot of the Abbey from the River Test

Front View.
I found a Rose for all of you while we were there, so here it is- a rose from me to you. My way of saying a Big and Sincere Thank You to everyone who reads the blog/ enjoys it/ comments kindly on it. I appreciate YOU ALL.... 

Hope you enjoyed the roses and the gardens, albeit second-hand. And hello to the lovely lady from America who left me a comment on last year's Mottisfont Roses post on Friday, because she was travelling over to the garden to visit it on Monday, the same day Ma and I went. I hope you enjoyed the roses and will come and see them again. Maybe we walked past one another without knowing!

CT x


  1. In Britain we are blessed with nature's abundance and the perfect climate to nurture it. Peonies, Roses and Lillies are my three favourite flowers.

    Thanks for sharing your visit

    Jean x

    1. It's certainly a beautiful time of year in the gardens. Mottisfont is well worth a visit if you are a rose fan. I've never been anywhere to match it, the place is special x

  2. Wow. That's a must see!
    The unnamed yellow rose could be David Austin's Graham Thomas. If it was planted in the forecourt it would be appropriate. The lily looks like Lilium martagon var. album.

    1. You would LOVE it there Jess- definitely worth a trip up next year (then you can pop in for coffee with me afterwards :-) )

      Thanks for the ids- knew I could rely on you to know what they were.

  3. Thankyou, thankyou, THANKYOU!! I was only thinking about the roses and gardens at Mottisfont this past week and WISHING I lived nearer so I could go there again. Now you have satisfied my yearning, but also made me decide I will DEFINITELY visit my New Forest friend next summer and visit for myself.

    Fabulous roses, and you have just added at least a dozen to my wish list. I treated myself to Raubritter and a David Austin rose, Jude the Obscure (a friend for Tess of the D'Urbervilles which I had for my birthday). They bring so much pleasure.

    That garden is just SO AMAZING, and SO BEAUTIFUL. I think it even beats the one at Powis Castle, which was my favourite until you reminded me how lovely Mottisfont is. They must have an absolute army of gardeners there.

    Thankyou once again.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the photos. You definitely must come up next year. I'm only ten mins from the gardens so if you do come let me know and pop round for coffee.

      Yes, definitely an army of gardeners required, quite a few of whom, I believe, are volunteers. Such a fabulous place to work.

  4. My mother would have LOVED that.

  5. The photos look glorious, I've never visited but am adding it to my places to visit book now!

    1. You must go if you get a chance- an experience never to be forgotten :-)

  6. What beautiful gardens - just stunning and great photos. Another place added to my wish list of places to visit one day :) The roses are peonies are just gorgeous :)

    1. You would love it there I'm sure. Even slightly past its best it was still breath-taking :-)

  7. I love nothing more than a walk through Nature's wild garden and we have plenty of those in the Maritimes - while not manicured and paths made like yours, ours is more like farmland gone wild with flowering beauties. We do have a wonderful walk through at Kingsbrae in St. Andrews though and well worth seeing all the unique gardens , flowers n trees.

    1. Farmland gone wild sounds delicious. I've been in a wildflower meadow this afternoon counting butterflies....so peaceful :-)

  8. I can almost smell them, just looking at the pink roses especially.
    Must got to Mottisfont one day - I had ancestors in Winchester and Romsey, and it doesn't seem far from there...
    Great images for a summer day.
    All the best :)

    1. It is such a fantastic place and well worth a visit. Ten mins (if that) from Romsey, and about half an hour from Winch. :-)

  9. Don't think my first comment worked, just in case....
    Stunning place and photos....
    Amanda xx

    1. Ah ha! No, I didn't get the first one :-)

      It is a fabulous place and well worth a visit in June if you get the chance x

  10. Fantastic pictures , we are unable to visit there this year so the walk with you around the gardens was a wonderful substitute. Sarah x

    1. It is such a lovely place, Sarah, and all the more nice to go with mum every year x


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