It was a bit late for roses in this jumble of a season. There had been rain a few days before our visit so there were fears the blooms would be damaged. With Covid restrictions there was no access to the art gallery in the house, so grounds and gardens seemed all we could expect. Not quite, however, and that was good.
Our booking was for 11 am. It wasn’t a problem that we were late but it would have been impossible had we not reserved admission. Masks on, show membership cards, and we were admitted. There was no map available – plan is too small a concept – but the walled gardens were easy to identify and reach. On the way we passed the house front as well as the former stables and coach house, now refreshment centre, and made a note for later.
Trees are a splendid feature of this site. Two of them frame the house as you go towards the gardens. The river Test adds music to the view, running swiftly through the grounds. Its splendid trout are easily spotted from a bridge.
There are several walled gardens, each with a mass of roses, many with companion planting of geraniums, alliums and other plants. As one rose fades, almost before its other blooms can open, there are contrasting flowers, leaves and seeds to see.
Many of the roses are very old varieties, difficult to buy nowadays. Helpful but discreet identification labels are provided. These give both type and specific name: helpful.
The day’s bonus was a small exhibition of paintings and drawings by Joan Eardley in that part of the house that was open. On the way there we also found a small area with remnants of the abbey building. Better still, swallows had found it too and were feeding young.
At the other end of the scale Mottisfont has a good system for transporting older or less mobile visitors so nobody need be excluded.
It is always surprising how much time passes during such a visit, and how tired one can be afterwards. We were lucky to be staying less than fidteen minutes’ drive away, so can claim to have had a reasonably leisurely day in one of Hampshire’s grandest stately homes.