Developing Mottisfont's Frameyard

A moodboard of flowers, herbs and garden structures, inspiration for the new garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Walled Garden Appeal, we are creating a new garden in the area known as the 'Frameyard'. We're working on the garden at the moment, to be finished over summer ready for launch in autumn.

The new garden will be laid out in a formal manner, with a series of raised beds surrounding a central dipping pond. Constructed of brick and flint to echo colours and materials found elsewhere at Mottisfont, the beds will be planted with mixed vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, and roses, with evergreen borders to create year-round interest.

" I wanted to design a garden that was innovative yet reflective of Mottisfont's medieval past - and of course the Frameyard's fascinating productive history."
- Jonny Norton

The use of water reflects Mottisfont’s origins as the site of a spring. Eight standard apple trees will be planted around the dipping pond to reflect the eight sides of a font, representing baptism and new life.

Running the full length of the garden are two wooden pergola walkways reminiscent of cloisters. These will be draped with climbing gourds, beans and vines, above raised beds planted with edible crops. The pergolas will open up onto each of the dissecting pathways, and the central point of each walkway will form an arbour decorated with climbing roses.

Rosa 'Laure Davoust' in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire.
Rose arch at Mottisfont
Rosa 'Laure Davoust' in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire.

Two cold frames will be built against the existing south-west facing wall, to bring on tender plants and extend the growing season. The design allows for the future reinstatement of a glasshouse along the west side of this wall.

The original potting sheds which run along the west wall will be open to the public to be displayed as working spaces, as well as providing toilet facilities. A catering outlet will be reinstated in the corner of the garden, with shaded seating.

Take a look at the plans for the new garden (PDF / 0.2MB) download

The history of the Frameyard

Our walled gardens are now world-famous for displaying the national collection of old-fashioned roses, first introduced by the horticulturalist and rosarian Graham Stuart Thomas in the 1970s. Until the early twentieth century, however, these gardens were used for the production of fruit, vegetables and flowers - just as the monks of the original priory would have grown.

The area which we're developing has seen many transformations over the years. The historic footprint dates back to at least the seventeenth century. A hothouse and greenhouse were installed here in the early nineteenth century; a detailed account in The Gardener from 1869 illustrates the acclaimed productivity of this area.

In the early twentieth century, all the freestanding glasshouses here had been demolished, with only glass frames against the north wall remaining. The gardens were generally still cultivated, however.

Records show that the walled gardens continued to function as kitchen gardens throughout the Second World War, producing fresh produce for Mottisfont and the neighbouring community.

Maud Russell gave Mottisfont to the National Trust in 1957, but she continued to live in the house until 1972. She retained the walled gardens as her private space, and continued using this area to produce vegetables.

The Frameyard area photographed circa 1970
An aerial photograph of Mottisfont's walled gardens, taken in te 1970s
The Frameyard area photographed circa 1970

But it was in a poor state, and once Mrs Russell relocated in 1972, this area was initially converted into a car park, whilst the other walled gardens became the home of an eminent rose collection.

During the early 1970s, Graham Stuart Thomas did recommend that a collection of tea roses and climbing roses be planted to improve this area, but these plans were never realised.

The visitor car park moved in 1985, and this area was used to accommodate catering and retail outlets. In recent years, it has served as simply a stopping place for refreshment and convenience before entering the celebrated rose gardens.

But this current state is doing a disservice to its past importance and significance. Thanks to your donations, we are now able to re-interpret this space, inspired by its productive past.