Mottisfont's rose garden

Colourful, climbing roses in bloom across a rose arch in the gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Our walled gardens are home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which reach their peak in early summer. Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their blooming season is an extraordinary annual sight. The gardens are open from 10am to 5pm daily.


Take a tour of a rose garden

We're really excited about welcoming you back this summer, especially as we weren't able to open Mottisfont's famous rose garden in 2020. We know that not all of you will be able to visit during the rose season, so enjoy this video tour that we made last year when the gardens were closed. Former General Manager, Louise Govier, talks about her favourite blooms and reveals the rich history of this magical garden, which has roses dating back to before 1900.

A gardener's dream

Created by Graham Stuart Thomas - one of the most important figures in 20th-century British horticulture - in the 1970s, our walled gardens were chosen to house many varieties that may otherwise have become extinct.

" Few better sites could have been found for a garden of old roses than this."
- Graham Stuart Thomas, An English Rose Garden (1991)

With an artist's eye and consummate knowledge, Graham Stuart Thomas designed a garden that would combine roses with a mix of perennials to give a season-long display.

A gateway set in sunny rose-covered wall leads to the first rose garden, with deep box-lined borders full of rambling and climbing roses and clematis trained on the high brick wall behind. The main paths crossing the site converge on a central round pond and fountain, surrounded by eight clipped Irish yews.

Either side of this historic central pathway are two deep herbaceous flower beds boasting many of Graham Stuart Thomas’s favourite perennials, chosen for their structure, scent and wide colour palette. These are packed with plants chosen for their structure, scent and wide colour palette.

Herbaceous borders fill our walled gardens with colour
The herbaceous borders of the walled gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Herbaceous borders fill our walled gardens with colour

Agapanthus, geraniums and peonies mingle with pinks, lilies, phlox and nepeta. The centres of the borders are a mass of soft blues, pinks and whites, whilst stronger yellows, oranges and dark pinks draw your eye along the length of the border.

Long borders brim with plants chosen to complement and underplant the roses. They also extend the season, providing colour, shape and scent before the roses bloom and after their petals fall. In June the roses are accompanied by striking spires of white foxgloves.

The northern section of the walled garden, with its wide paths, is deliberately planted with a 'cool' colour palette to provide a counterpoint to the central rose garden.

Looking after our roses

At this time of year we get many enquiries about why we don’t tend to dead-head. The gardeners don't tend to dead-head these unique roses, which is a surprise to some visitors. Most of the old-fashioned types only flower once a year, and afterwards produce ornamental fruit or ‘hips', which, as well as brightening the garden in autumn, provide local birds with an important source of winter food.

The team remove the spent blooms of the repeat flowering roses by cutting the stem back to a healthy new bud which will encourage them to keep flowering.

Jude's rose flavoured ice cream

Jude's ice cream at Mottisfont

Inspired by the rose garden here at Mottisfont, we are proud to be serving Jude's rose flavoured ice cream, as well as a range of other delicious flavours. Made locally in Hampshire, and Britain's first carbon negative ice cream company, Jude's ice cream is the perfect summertime treat to enjoy during your visit to Mottisfont. Available every day from our cafe.