Monday, 26 June 2017

National Treasures: Mottisfont Abbey Roses

Mottisfont Abbey is world renowned for its collection of old fashioned roses. As June was upon us, we knew we had to act fast and visit Mottisfont to see for ourselves.

Mottisfont Lane, Romsey SO51 0LP

The NT has this to say about the collection:

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.

Over 500 varieties of rose bloom in our walled gardens.

Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary annual sight.

Discover varieties such as 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.
The light crimson and deeply scented shrub Rosa gallica officinalis was brought to England from Persia by the Crusaders, and there are other hybrids so ancient that they are prehistoric. Some varieties are so rare that it's possible we have the only stock in existence.

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 become extinct.

We were lucky on arrival, to find shady car parking, but had we got there any later, we would have ended up in the baking sun in the overflow carpark in a nearby field. I wasn't sure how busy it was going to be, being that it was Father's Day (or in our household Fur-Fathering Sunday) but it was busy indeed and we could see the sun gleaming off the cars from the shady riverbank.

Our first mission was to find shade to have our picnic, and most shady spots were taken, or being selfishly reserved for a bit later by people. One woman who was actually set up on a picnic blanket, had her son stood on the bench we wanted, walking back and forth on it, while she called her mum, getting her to get there soon, as she had a bench for her. We ended up under some trees, next to the house, sat on a log, which smacked of being round the campfire!

Picnic finished, we then debated seeing the roses first or going in the house and as it was just gone noon, decided roses first as the house might have been full of people getting out of the midday sun.

I must say, although we could have done with getting there a week earlier, the roses were truly spectacular.

The scent was delicious, and filled the walled garden with the most incredible fragrance. Bees, hoverflies and butterflies were everywhere.

It wasn't only roses, there was also the Lesser Spotted Apple Eater ...

Next time I'll share some photos of the interior of the house and all its Edwardian trappings.

If you're interested, this was my other Mottisfont post, from January.