History of the garden
In the 13th Century the Canons had 2 gardens around the priory and these would have produced fruit, vegetables and herbs. We also know that they made use of the surrounding meadows to rear animals.
There is quite a considerable gap in the garden records up until the late 17th / early 18th Century when a map and a land survey indicate how the gardens looked. There were formal avenues, evidence of fish ponds and 2 orchards, one to the north of the house and one to the south west. In the mid 18th Century the house and gardens were re-designed, as a result of this the previous garden features were removed to create a large landscaped park. During this time many of the grand, old trees that are here today were planted, some of these are the Sweet Chestnut trees along the drive and some of the large Plane trees. By the end of the 1700's the layout of the garden was complete and has remained, with a few changes, to this day.
During the time of Gilbert and Maud Russell some key features of the garden were added. These include the Parterre on the South Lawn and the Lime Walk on the northern front of the house.
The walled garden here at Mottisfont is divided into 3 sections, it was built in the late 18th Century and covers an area of approximately 2 acres. It is now world famous for the collection of old fashioned roses and sublime companion planting that was the vision of Graham Stuart Thomas. However, originally it was a very successful production garden which grew fruit, exotic fruit, vegetables and cut flowers all for use in the house. The glasshouses produced some of the county's finest pineapples, grapes and peaches. The walled garden remained a produce garden until the early 1970's when Graham Thomas (who was the National Trust's Garden Adviser at the time) decided it would be the perfect place to house his collection of roses. Old fashioned roses were very unpopular at this time and most people weren't interested in growing one in their back garden, let alone an entire collection.
Mr Thomas designed and planted the most exquisite rose garden, which was unlike the traditional idea of a rose garden. Instead of having bare beds with nothing but neatly spaced out roses in them, Mottisfont has beds full of herbaceous under planting designed to compliment the roses, not only in colour but in structure as well. During late spring, summer and into autumn the garden is a riot of colour and scent which, in my slightly biased opinion, can be equalled by no other garden the world over. There can be no arguing that this garden has played a leading role in bringing these wonderful varieties of old roses back into the public eye and making them popular once again.