GARDENS & LAKES
The ‘Finest Woodland Gardens in England’ await you at Leonardslee Gardens. Popular with visitors for generations, there are outstanding displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and bluebells. You can enjoy tranquil walks throughout the 200 acres of gardens, parkland, lawns and forest areas.
Visit the jewel in the crown of the estate:
The ornamental rock garden, built in 1890 by the Victorian landscaping company James Pulham & Sons. It features a series of rocky outcrops which combine natural sandstone with artificial Pulhamite rock, intensively planted with hummocks of azaleas, dwarf rhododendrons and dwarf conifers.
Visitors also take the more challenging trail down into the valley to the see the series of seven man-made ponds, which contain a colony of huge carp, and were used in the 19th century to provide water power for the iron industry. Damp and slightly acidic, the soil is well-suited to rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. Loder gave his name to the famous hybrid Rhododendron 'Loderi'. The gardens were used for filming several exterior scenes for the 1947 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film ‘Black Narcissus’, which is set in the extreme north of India.
They are listed Grade I in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. The great woodland garden was inspired by the ideas of Sir Uvedale Price, Richard Payne Knight and J. C. Loudon, with the planting of exotic plants in a style that was derived from landscape painting. You can see a rare colony of wallabies - imported into the estate by Edmund Loder in 1889 - as well as wildfowl and a number of species of deer, which wander throughout the estate.