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.

Visitors flock to see this world-famous display from over five hundred varieties. Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary annual sight.

Peak prices apply during June (free to National Trust members). Off-peak prices are applicable from 3.30pm onwards. Please note that dogs are not allowed into the rose gardens.

Planning your visit

We’re now at peak rose season with most of the national collection in bloom. We are very busy with visitors and, due to the recent poor weather conditions, we are not able to make use of our overflow car park. The following information may be helpful for planning your visit:

  • The gardens are open from 9am daily until 30 June.
  • Our busiest period tends to be between 11am and 3pm – to avoid the crowds and potential disappointment we recommend you visit outside of this peak time.
  • Please car share where possible; there are also alternative travel methods available: Mottisfont & Dunbridge station is just over a mile away on foot, across fields and some country roads. The closest taxi services are located in Romsey. There is a free bus service operating between Romsey and Andover via Mottisfont on Sundays (click for the timetable). We also welcome cyclists – there are bike racks next to our Welcome Centre.
  • If we are forced to close our car park, we will be putting out messaging as soon as possible on our social media channels and website. The roads around the village need to be kept clear in case of emergency access and for local residents – please be considerate.
Take in the sights and scents of our glorious rose collection
Pink roses bloom against a brick wall in the gardens at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Take in the sights and scents of our glorious rose collection

As you visit the gardens you'll discover varieties such as Souvenir de la Malmaison – a sumptuous pale pink bourbon rose inspired by the Empress Josephine’s famous garden – and delicate Chinese 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. 

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.

Looking after the roses

Our gardeners take great pride in looking after this world-class rose garden. This dedicated team lavish care and attention on the National Collection of old-fashioned roses.

You can join one of the garden team from 11am-11.30am and 2-2.30pm daily throughout June as they answer your gardening questions, and find out more about how they help to bring this sensational garden to life year after year.

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.

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 2020, ensuring they are healthy and sustainable for future generations.