Summer family fun in Mottistone Gardens

Two girls walking through the gardens at Mottistone, Isle of Wight

Mottistone Gardens are a magical place for little ones to explore in summer. In the warm summer’s sun they can go wild in nature as they hunt around the shrubs and across the wildflower banks for hidden flowerpot people, or burn off some energy making dens in the Wild Area. Each Tuesday this summer holiday there are even ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities to try. And if the rain drops do start to fall, all that fresh air will make the whole family feel refreshed.

Flowerpot people trail

Living in the gardens at Mottistone are some very unusual people – they’re made from flowerpots, and each one has a name you might recognise but with a slight gardening twist. From Visitor Reception you can pick up a free trail sheet and then hunt deep in the Gully or high on the wildflower banks for these little people, such as Benedict Cucumberpatch or Captain Jack Marrow. Once you’ve found them all, why not draw and name your very own flowerpot person who may then magically appear in the garden the following year? The trail is perfect for those aged 5-12 years but the whole family can help with the search.

Hunt for the flowerpot people hidden in the gardens
Family looking at a flowerpot person that is sitting under a tree in Mottistone Gardens
Hunt for the flowerpot people hidden in the gardens

It’s not just flowerpot people you can hunt for at Mottistone. Pick up a free Photo ID trail at Visitor Reception and see if you can find the places featured in the photos. Some of them are super tiny or very high up, so you’ll need to have keen eyes to find them all. Those aged 5-12 years might enjoy this most.

‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾ ‘

We’ve plenty of ways for you to tick off some off your ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ at Mottistone Gardens. Discover bugs to make friends with, roll down a really big hill, take a barefoot walk through the maze, or just lie on the grassy lawns and watch the clouds go by. 50 things activities are great for those aged 5-12 years but all the family can join in.

Child flying a kite

Extra '50 things' for summer

Each Tuesday of the summer holidays (23 July – 28 Aug) we’ve guided 50 things to have a go at too. You could try No.7 by designing a kite, making it your own with different coloured streamers and then flying it in the gentle summer breeze. There are also butterflies to count and woodland crowns to make (£2 per kite kit all other activities free).

Wild play

If you head to the area just behind the potting shed you’ll find the Wild Area. It’s perfect for slightly older children aged between 8 and 12 years. Hidden in amongst the trees, you could build a den, make a trail with sticks or even climb as high as you can in one of the trees. It’s also a handy shady spot to play in on a warm, sunny day.

Two boys build their own den.
A picture of two boys building a den.
Two boys build their own den.

Something for older kids

This summer the whole family can make the most of the long summer evenings by experiencing Mottistone Gardens after dark. For two special nights the gardens will come alive as Bohemian Rhapsody and Grease take to the screen.

Hungry tummies

When tummies start to rumble, the tea garden makes a good pit stop. Here you’ll find freshly made sandwiches, soups, cakes and tasty treats which use produce from the organic kitchen garden where possible. In the shop there are cooling ice creams too. There are lots of great spots for picnics around the gardens – the grassy lawns of the orchard are a favourite, and toddlers can run around here too, or there are plenty of benches dotted high and low around the grounds.

Lady picking beans and carrying a basket of vegetables

Something tasty from the garden 

The secluded tea garden serves soups, sandwiches and light lunches which use seasonal produce from the organic kitchen garden when possible.

Useful things to know

  • There is a free car park located next to the gardens. From here there is a short, 2 minute walk to Visitor Reception along a gravel path and down a few steps.
  • Baby changing facilities are available in the accessible toilet which is located in the entrance barn.
  • In the tea gardens there is water to help-yourself to and child friendly glasses.
  • Pushchairs are welcome but there are some gravel paths and steps.
  • Highchairs are available in the tea garden.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the gardens and there are water bowls for four-legged friends outside the shop and in the tea garden.

When the rain comes down….

Although the Isle of Wight has lots of sunshine it does still rain sometimes. When the clouds do come out to play, there’s a home in miniature - The Shack - to explore and undercover seating area to hide under in the tea garden. You could also visit the shop in the ancient Tudor barn as you wait for the rain to pass, or if not, you could make the most of the rain and dance amongst the raindrops. If you've forgotten to bring anything, our shop sells a range of seasonal products.

Explore inside The Shack
Family sitting at a desk inside The Shack at Mottistone Gardens
Explore inside The Shack