Mottisfont's rose garden

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

Our walled gardens are filled with heavenly fragrance and colour from thousands of roses in early summer. We’re home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which reach their peak in June.

We've reached the end of rose season for another year, but there's still plenty of colour in the walled gardens from late-flowering and late-blooming roses - some of which flower right up until the autumn - and companion plants.

The herbaceous borders of the walled gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Summer in the garden 

The herbaceous borders in our famous walled gardens provide a wonderful floral colour palette right through until October, showcasing a huge variety of flowering plants. Richly-scented lavender lines the pathways of the north walled garden and the east lawn behind the house.

 

At this time of year we get many enquiries about why we don’t tend to dead-head. Our gardeners take great pride in looking after this world-class rose garden, lavishing care and attention on the National Collection of old-fashioned roses.

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.

Mottisfont's walled gardens: 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 been lost.

" 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 a 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.

Take a seat and soak up the sights of our famous walled gardens
A view along a path under rose arches to a fountain and bench in the walled gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Take a seat and soak up the sights of our famous walled gardens

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.

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.

Vibrant roses are complimented by stately white foxgloves
A colourful June display in Mottisfont's walled gardens
Vibrant roses are complimented by stately 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.

This is the first summer for our new Kitchen Garden, which adjoins the central walled gardens where the famous rose collection is held. The central point of each walkway here forms an arbour decorated with four varieties of climbing rose, based on Graham Stuart Thomas’s choice of companion roses. 

The Kitchen Garden also has two beds planted with eleven different types of rose, from gallicas to albas – providing an introduction to the hundreds of varieties you’ll find in the adjoining gardens.

Restoring the rose gardens - with your help

 Rose Veilchenblau on arch, in the rose garden in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire

The rose garden restoration appeal at Mottisfont 

We need your help to restore our world-famous rose gardens to full splendour for their 50th anniversary in 2024, ensuring they are healthy and sustainable for future generations.