Colorful Rock Garden at Leonardslee Gardens, West Sussex, UK | Flowering Kurume azaleas in May (12 of 14)
Leonardslee Gardens: Rock Garden
For a few weeks in May each year, Leonardslee Gardens in West Sussex, UK, erupt into a spectacular display of the most amazing combinations of rhododendron and azalea blossoms. 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 it as being like ‘heaven on earth’.
The photograph shown here is a late afternoon view of the rock garden at Leonardslee.
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.
In the rock garden, much of the huge ‘rockwork’ was actually man-made. It was fabricated in 1890 by James Pulham, who became famous for creating landscape features known for their natural-looking artificial rockwork ('Pulhamite').
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 5 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.
Location: Leonardslee Gardens, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex, England, RH13 6PP, UK.
Links: A more detailed history of Leonardslee Gardens is available on Wikipedia. The historically significant ‘artificial rock’ used in the construction of the rock garden at Leonardslee was made by James Pulham. Leonardslee nursery is still run by Chris Loder and his website contains useful information on Rhododendron Loderi, its varieties and hybrids.
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