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Explore the garden at Mottistone Gardens and Estate

A garden path lined with spring flowers and trees in blossom in Mottistone Gardens, Isle of Wight
Mottistone Gardens filled with colourful flowers. | © ©National Trust Images/Rebecca Bevan

The tranquil garden at Mottistone is well known for its colourful borders but there's far more to explore. Banks covered with wildflowers in the spring shelter the garden and unusual drought-resistant plants thrive without watering. With a multitude of different spaces to discover, and sea views from the higher areas, this garden is not to be missed.

Seeing inside the manor

We’re hoping to open more of the manor for you to explore but we’re currently getting it ready for you to visit. In the meantime, our second-hand book shop is open within the manor and we look forward to showing you more soon.

Spring highlights at Mottistone Gardens

In spring, just as in nature, it’s the wilder areas of the gardens that really come to life. The warmer weather and sheltered location mean that across the gardens, bright and colourful petals unfurl. And with each new month, something different starts to bloom.

Daffodils and spring bulbs

The garden team have planted around 11,000 daffodil bulbs at Mottistone. Up through the avenue of trees and under two old horse chestnut trees, ‘St Keverne’, ‘Ice Follies’ and ‘Unsurpassable’ will be bursting forth this spring, whilst the rich yellow trumpets of ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ will be brightening the shady gully. In the tea garden the delicate yellow and white petals of ‘Cheerfulness’ bring rays of spring sunshine

In the orchard, nestled around the trunks, and lining the path between the fruit trees, white and golden narcissi are opening their trumpets in the spring sunshine. And across the banks 'Little Witch' and jonquil narcissi fill the gardens with delicate colour and fragrance

Head to the very top of the orchard and you’ll find a wooden bench to relax on amongst spring daffodils.

Additionally, the garden team have planted around 1,800 bulbs of delicate crocus and Leucojum vernum - a relative of the snowdrop, sharing its nodding white bells (and known as the 'spring snowdrop'). In May and June the elegant star-shaped flowers of Camassia will appear on the banks by the courtyard, accompanied by clusters of Leucojum aestivum ('summer snowdrop'). And if the April showers have been kind, purple-petalled Iris will also flower here, warmed by the May sunshine.

Fruit tree blossom

Taking a stroll through the orchard, under the gruit trees, is like walking through an avenue of pink and white confetti as the apple, cherry and crab apple trees blossom high above.


From late April, at the very top of the gardens, a carpet of bluebells covers the woodland floor in Shearn Place. These distinctive bell-like flowers are a joy to see and show that summer is just around the corner.

Bright and shady

Even in the shady gully that runs along the edge of the gardens, spring colour is blooming. Follow the path behind the tea garden and you’ll come across vivid pink and white azaleas, and rhododendrons that bloom profusely. Camellias and deep purple hellebores have provided colour in the garden all though the winter, but are still producing their flowers to brighten the gully in spring.

Just by the organic vegetable patch is the plant propagation area. Here our gardeners nurture new plants for the garden, and in spring you’ll see plenty of new growth.

More to see

Although these are a few of our seasonal highlights, there are many other plants and flowers waiting for you to discover them this spring. And with each new day, another bud bursts open. So every time you visit, there'll be more to see, and you're helping us to plant extra colour for the future.

A view down a gravel pathway with flower borders on either side and the stone house in the far distance at Mottistone Garden and Estate
The flower borders at Mottistone Garden and Estate | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Colourful herbaceous borders

Each summer the double borders fill with colour. From lofty, bright, red-hot pokers, and purple Agapanthus, to creamy Sisyrinchium, the garden bursts with rainbow shades as bees hum and buzz as they gather nectar. The sheltered conditions mean that from June through to late September, the flowers will continue to bloom. As well as more traditional varieties, the borders also contain several drought-resistant plants, as we don't water but let nature take its course.

Tranquil rose garden

This sheltered area of the garden is a wonderful place to relax. Hummingbird hawkmoths are attracted by the flowers. Each June the gentle aroma of the roses fills the garden, and the rose ‘Bonica’ creates a froth of dainty pink shells that cascade across the centre of this patch.

New plants for our changing climate

As one of the National Trust’s most southerly ‘dry’ gardens, the team of gardeners and volunteers plant Mediterranean-style planting. High up on the banks that overlook the garden, there’s a small olive grove that’s starting to establish itself. In the monocot border, to the front of the garden, there are exotic plants from around the world that do well in dry conditions. Here yuccas are found, along with palms and bananas.

More to explore

Most people will head to the borders, but beyond them lie plenty of other corners of the garden to discover.

A view down a gravel path flanked by a tall green hedge with a group of visitors enjoying the flower borders in the garden at Mottistone Garden and Estate
The garden at Mottistone Garden and Estate | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The organic kitchen garden

With accessible pathways and raised beds, the organic kitchen garden has changing planting that varies through the seasons. From the first new potatoes of the year to sweet raspberries in early autumn, there’s always something different to see. Companion planting is used to deter pests and instead of artificial fertilisers the hungry soil is fed with farmyard manure and compost.

The orchard

Towards the rear of the garden is the orchard. Often quieter than the herbaceous borders, it makes a relaxing space to unwind or watch little ones run around on the grassy lawn. In spring, the avenue of trees blossom with confetti-like petals and in summer the fruits start to hang low from laden branches. Head to the very back of the orchard and you’ll find quiet benches to sit on among the tall trees whose leaves gently rustle in the breeze. From here a network of footpaths criss-cross the Mottistone estate too.

Pictorial meadow

In the summer you can walk along the garden's grassy avenues and be treated to a patchwork of waving flower heads and soft grasses.

The recently introduced 'pictorial meadow' is a perennial mix designed to mature over the years and provide colour throughout much of the summer. There’s a lovely mix of wildflowers including viper’s bugloss, ox-eye daisy, cowslip, pink musk mallow, meadow sage and wild carrot. The meadow is already popular with pollinators, especially butterflies. Look out for common blues, small coppers, meadow browns and gatekeepers.

Wildflower banks and sea views

High wildflower banks border the orchard. In spring a carpet of narcissi and bluebells cover the slopes and in summer ox-eye daisies dance and bob in the breeze.

From the lower garden, paths meander up through these shrub-filled banks and grassy terraces to the garden's higher levels. If you sit on one of the benches here, you’ll see views of the garden, village and sea beyond and spy butterflies flitting between the flowers and grasses.

In summer, the gully provides a welcome spot of shade to escape to and in early spring it comes alive with colour as the vivid pink azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and hellebores flower.

If you’d like to know more about the garden, and how we look after it, you can pick up a guidebook for a small donation at visitor reception.

Visitors in the garden at Mottistone, Isle of Wight

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