Spring in the garden at Mottisfont

Daffodils in bloom in front of the font stream at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Spring bulbs and blossom delight the senses at this time of year. Our riverside gardens are bursting to life with colourful floral displays, while newly-hatched ducklings and cygnets take to the water.

During winter we plant masses of mixed, naturalising spring bulbs under ancient trees, in the winter garden, the walled gardens, and in the cherry orchard. Maud Russell’s head gardener, Mr Buckle, started the tradition of ‘bulk planting’ a single plant variety which has since been adopted by subsequent head gardeners.

This spring bulb showcase is designed to provide changing displays throughout the season, from daffodils and crocuses in March and April to tulips in April and May. The parterre is full of richly-scented hyacinths, and chionodoxa sweeps down the lime tree avenue in April. Towards the end of the season, wild garlic blooms near the font.

" Thousands of tulips have been planted in our new Kitchen Garden. The colour choices were inspired by viola tricolor, the old medieval pansy that used to be grown for its many medicinal benefits, and flowers such as nasturtium and calendula which bloom later in the year."
- Jonny Norton, Head Gardener at Mottisfont
Magnolia in bloom at Mottisfont
A magnolia tree in bloom next to the house at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Magnolia in bloom at Mottisfont

Late March sees the flowering of a magnificent magnolia at Mottisfont. The tree creates an archway of snowy blossom, leading through to a small cherry orchard, which in late spring, is awash with white flowers. Sometimes, for a week or so, the two are in flower together, creating a beautiful blossom experience. Snakeshead fritillary and orchids bloom in the meadow beyond the garden. 

Once the threat of frost has passed, the first spring vegetables are planted in the Kitchen Garden, and young apple trees produce modest displays of blossom. The raised beds are full of mixed salad leaves and perennial herbs, including medieval varieties that would once have been planted here in the old priory gardens.

Weeping willow creating a graceful arch above our river
A weeping willow arches over a bridge in the grounds of Mottisfont, Hampshire
Weeping willow creating a graceful arch above our river

Overhead, the many trees in our gardens are proudly displaying rich canopies of bright new leaves. Tree pruning carried out by our garden team helps ensure the best possible displays year on year.

Tulips in the parterre and walled gardens provide the finale of our spring showcase, leading into early-flowering roses. The first roses start to emerge in May, particularly wall-climbing varieties, building up to the main “rose season” in June.

Mottisfont's rose arch in the evening sun

Visit our rose garden 

Mottisfont's walled gardens are home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which are in full bloom just once a year. Visit us in late May - June and you'll be met with unsurpassed fragrance and colour from thousands of flowers.

Bluebells on the wider estate

Our estate woodlands put on a wildflower show for spring. Species such as lady's smock (also known as the cuckoo flower), celandines and bluebells begin to cover the meadows and woodland floor. 

Our estate walk is the best way to see this annual flowering.

Bluebells in bloom on a woodland floor, in the wider estate of Mottisfont, Hampshire
Walking trail

Mottisfont estate walk 

From mid-April and into May, our woodlands offer one of Britain's most beloved natural sights: floods of bluebells in flower. Take our 6 mile estate walk to spot pretty periwinkle patches decorating the woodland floor, particularly at the start of the walk in Spearywell, and later in Queensmeadow and Great Copse. A protected species in the UK, the common bluebell is a fragile flower; please stick to the defined footpaths while you walk, and leave the flowers in their natural environment, for everyone to enjoy.