Leonardslee Gardens: Landscape Garden and lake views
For a few weeks in May of each year, Leonardslee Gardens in West Sussex, UK, erupt into a spectacular display of the most amazing color combinations of flowering rhododendrons and azaleas. The green, wooded valley gardens then turn into a place of vibrant colors and outstanding natural beauty. Filled with the scent of the massed azalea plantings the whole area becomes a forest paradise. Visitors have often described its beauty and tranquility as being like heaven on earth.
For many years, tens of thousands of visitors have enjoyed the picture postcard qualities of this Grade 1 historic garden. Unfortunately, the gardens are now closed to the public as they have been sold to an international businessman.
Details: Leonardslee Gardens is a truly outstanding English landscape garden having a Grade 1 Historic Garden status (English Heritage Register). It covers about 240 acres (97 Hectares) in a wooded valley, contains seven lakes and is extensively planted with azaleas, ancient rhododendrons (some well over 100 years old), acers and camellias – all with a delightful under planting of bluebells in spring.
The great Victorian plant collector, Sir Edmund Loder (who gave his name to the large flowered and scented Loderi Rhododendron Hybrids) purchased the estate in 1889 and planted large numbers of Rhododendrons there. Sir Giles Loder later planted an extensive collection of camellias at Leonardslee. The estate remained in the hands of five generations of the Loder family until 2010 when it was sold to an international businessman. However, the Loder Rhododendron nursery was not sold and is still in business.