Recently we took a trip with our local gardening club to Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens. Set in the rolling weald of West Sussex, mid-way between London and the south coast, this is a recently restored garden that is often overlooked by the much more famous gardens of Nymans that also happen to be very close-by.
I’m not sure of the history of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, but you can read more on their website; the gardens have gone through cycles of neglect and restoration in the past, the most recent of which was in April this year. We really were among the first visitors after nine years of work restoring the gardens, which closed in 2010 and only re-opened this spring season.
Leonardslee specialises in rhododendrons and azaleas. That’s pretty much it. While there are many specimen trees, other woodland plants such as acers and camellias, there are countless numbers and varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, all planted en-masse. The best time to see them all of course is in the spring. We arrived just as the season was over the peak but there was still a great deal in flower.
The most abundant plant there is, is Rhododendron Luteum, a fragrant yellow-flowered shrub and my goodness the whole place is filled with the heady scent of these plants, they’re everywhere and their sweet scent is everywhere too.
We had a great time going around the large gardens, walking underneath the woodlands and along side the lake paths. The sweet perfume from the R. Luteum pervaded the air and in all, it was a very pleasant day and well worth the visit. There aren’t many places where you can see such large scale vibrant techni-colour in flower and that’s what makes Leonardslee so special.