The rose garden at Mottisfont

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

The walled garden at Mottisfont is 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, attracting thousands of visitors.

Plan your visit

We’re open from 10am-8pm (last entry 7pm) on Mondays - Saturdays from Monday 30 May – Saturday 2 July (closing at 5pm on Sundays). To guarantee entry, please pre-book your parking space if you’re planning to visit between 10am-3.30pm. You don’t need to book for visits after 3.30pm.

Tickets can be booked up to four weeks in advance and can be booked up until 8am on the day of your visit if spaces are available. You only need to book one ticket per car. Parking is free, normal property admission applies (free for National Trust and Art Fund members).

If you don’t need a car parking space, you don’t need to book. There’s no parking provision within the village, but there are ways to get here without a car. Mottisfont & Dunbridge station is just over a mile away on foot, across fields and some country roads. Bike racks are provided at the Welcome Centre. The nearest taxi services are located in Romsey.

If you're a tour operator looking to book a coach visit, please contact us via groupbookings.mottisfont@nationaltrust.org.uk

Special and ancient rose varieties

Over 500 varieties of rose bloom in Mottisfont’s walled garden. Discover varieties such as Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ – a sumptuous pale pink bourbon rose inspired by the Empress Josephine’s famous garden – and delicate China and tea roses in shades of cream, pink and red.

Ancient varieties include Rosa ‘Gallica Officinalis’, a light crimson and deeply scented shrub brought to England from Persia by the Crusaders, and the highly scented ‘Quatre Saisons’, an autumn damask which was grown by the Romans.

Making your way through the rose garden

The first walled garden is our recently revived kitchen garden, where two beds of eleven different types of rose provide a modern introduction to the hundreds you’ll find beyond. Walkway arbours are decorated with four varieties of climbing rose, based on Graham Stuart Thomas’s choice of  companion roses. Hedging of Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’ leads you into these arbours, mirroring the entrance to the central garden. 

In the central garden, you’ll find 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. 

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.

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.

Video

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.

Looking after our 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. For this reason, the gardeners don't tend to deadhead these unique roses.

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