Mottisfont roses near Romsey

If you’ve never been to Mottisfont Abbey walled gardens in June, then get a date in your diary for next year. It’s a kaleidoscope of both scents and sights and makes for a great day out with a picnic by the river.

This Hampshire garden, it’s stately home, it’s grounds studded with massive ancient trees and with the chalk stream waters of the River Test meandering through, are owned by the National Trust.

It’s home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses which, unlike their more modern cousins, flower just once a year. As a result, it’s a short but sensational season as these stunning, relaxed and, often highly-scented, beauties all come to the party at once.

The garden was designed to combine this annual show with a longer-lived and full-to-the brim display of perennials chosen for scent, colour and structure. Blousy peonies, pretty pinks, spires of blue campanula and white foxgloves, lilies and agapanthus, all against the backdrop of heritage garden walls and features to draw the eye.

I’ve visited Mottisfont in June for 15 years or more and love it each year. 2020 was an exception with Covid. 2021 was the first year when rain almost stopped play but having had to book my visit in advance, I was determined to make the pilgrimage, whatever the weather.

Rain and wind had taken its toll on the gardens, and much of it looked a little sorry for itself, but the scents were sensational, and the brimming beds still beautiful.

I heard someone saying that the gardens had been worked on by a skeleton staff through lockdown and things were not as perfect as they would be in a normal year. I don’t know if that’s true or not, to me it seemed more likely the weather was to blame. When I got home, I was reading about the gardens and noticed on the Mottisfont website that the gardening team don’t tend to dead-head the spent blooms of these unique roses. If the blooms are left, the rose then produces ornamental fruit or ‘hips’, brightening the garden in autumn and providing a winter feast for the birds. I preferred this idea to the fact that the party had been ravaged by the elements.

Anyway, I may update this blog next year, but for now here are some pictures of my 2021 visit – all with raindrops and soggy bottoms.