Welcome to the first in a series of three winter blogs. 

This winter I thought to do something a little different.

I would like to take you with me on some journeys that I made this year to visit gardens here in the UK. Over the next three months we will look at three gardens and perhaps compare them with what we have here at Reveley Lodge. 

We gardeners are a fickle bunch as I am sure you are already aware. We envy others for having more than us or less than us, too much or too little sunshine, plants we would love to have or tut at things that we see in someone else’s kingdom! Hey ho! 

Of course I’m not going to say to you which gardens we are going to, all at once, that would be telling but rather hope to keep you interested to come back for more! Well that’s what blogs are all about, isn’t it?

So we are off to Mottisfont in beautiful Hampshire. This is a National Trust property with a fabulous rose garden and that is what I went to see. I first heard about it some years ago. And so it had remained on my ‘to visit’ list for some time. And I have got to say, they weren’t wrong! 

So to set the scene, the Rose Garden at Mottisfont is almost as big as Reveley itself. So while one was created to be open and takes you on a journey, the other was designed to be small and quite intimate. But both gardens very much focus on pre-1914 roses. Old Roses if you like: Moss, Bourbon, Damask and Centifolias.

Rose ‘Oeillet Parfait’

As you walk towards the garden, surrounded as it is with its high walls, you can smell the rose garden long before ever you get there. Wonderful.

There are said to be over 500 varieties of roses at Mottisfont, which is a stunning number and like a bag of Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts guaranteed to have something for everyone. I did see many of the old roses that we grow here at Reveley like Rosa ‘Francis E. Lester’.

And if I have got my facts right the collection was put together by Graham Stuart Thomas. 

Reveley’s own rose garden design was put together by the well known Rose Growers Peter Beales. And indeed Beales gifted all the original roses to the Trust too.

Garden designers have a large bag of time tested tricks to use and going into Mottisfont’s Rose Garden it is the ‘big wow’ entrance. It is not often that I am left clueless as to which way to go first, in a garden, but I was here. With such a big sky vista within a walled garden, so much sweet scent to take in, colours calling you in every direction and a choice of paths. It’s quite a challenge for a simple lad like me!

The Grand Entrance at Mottisfont’s Rose Garden

Now if you are not the biggest rose fan in the world, and not everyone is, there is plenty of non-rose material mixed in to enjoy. Indeed the clever use of Agapanthus, Geranium and Peonies mingled with Pinks, Lilies, Phlox and Catmint, then there are Plume Poppies (one of my favourites) and Scabious grandiflora which is a very useful plant and of course Yew topiary to add height.

Breaking dominance

One of the interesting things which rose gardeners can do and I do too here at Reveley, is to bend a long stem over and stake it down. This breaks what is termed ‘apical dominance’. Here at Mottisfont you can see an example of Rosa ‘Mme. Lauriol de Barny’. The result is flowers right along the stem and not just at the top of the stem.

So you are probably wondering what were my favourite roses that I saw at Mottisfont? And that is a hard one. So here are a few:

Rosa ‘Perle d’ Or’:  a Poly-pom rose from 1883.

Rosa ‘Mme Isacc Pereire’: a Bourbon rose from 1886.

Rosa ‘La Noblesse’: a Centifolia rose from 1856.

And finally Rosa ‘Chloris’: an Alba rose from 1820.

Rose ‘Chloris’

And so there we go, these are just a few of the things I saw. I hope you have enjoyed your day trip to Mottisfont.


And just to let you know that here at Reveley Lodge we are holding our own half day rose pruning tutorial this coming February.