Mottisfont's rose garden

The rose garden in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Our walled gardens home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which reach their peak in June. Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary annual sight.

While the main displays from these roses are now over for another year, there’s still plenty to see in our walled gardens, with bright colours and scents from herbaceous borders, and avenues of lavender in the north garden.

Flowering until October, herbaceous borders fill Mottisfont's walled gardens with colour
The herbaceous borders of the walled gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire

There are still some beautiful blooms from repeat-flowering rose varieties, too. 

At this time of year we get many enquiries from visitors about why we don’t tend to dead-head. Most of the old-fashioned roses for which we’re particularly famous only flower once a year, and afterwards produce ornamental fruit or ‘heps', which, as well as brightening the garden in autumn, provide local birds with an important source of winter food.

We dead-head all our modern varieties and any old-fashioneds that do flower more than once.

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.

Soak up the sights and scents of our walled rose gardens in June
A white bench sits underneath a rose-laden arch in the walled gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire

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.

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

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.