Spring is a time of change and colour - perhaps more so at Leonardslee than anywhere in England. The dark woodlands, shrouded by towering trees and dense shrubs are slowly but surely transformed by a dazzlingarray of colour.
Leonardslee even has its own microclimates, with flowers blooming at different times according to whether they are located deep within the valley by the Lakes or up at the summit, by the house and Rock Garden.
It is why we all love this season here of course. It is the most varied and changeable time. Spring seems to ebb and flow, never quite making up its mind what it wants to do. Teasing and beguiling one day, with the beautiful colours of new buds, then cold and inhospitable the next - carpeted with a blanket of snow or enduring the interminable light drizzle of cold rain.
Spring’s coming is signalled by the first signs of new growth in the gardens. At Leonardslee you can turn a corner on the winding pathways in the valley leading to the Lakes and discover one of nature’s Spring gems newly formed; a beautiful flower, set within the deep green of a nestling bush.
Now in bloom are Variegata, Donckelari, Lady Claire, Noblissima, Williamsii and Lady McCulloch; also Cornish Snow, Tricolor, Hikaru-Genji. All are on show now, at their finest, with more displays to come from other plants at Leonardslee.
April to June will give the best display of Rhododendrons and Camelias. The climax is in May. Camellias are the first to flower, Rhododendrons will be the last.
We have banks of narcissi at present and the Bluebell Bank will be a picture of loveliness in May when it will be full of the blue Spring flowers.
Hydrangeas will follow - their peak is July/August. Their ageing flower heads will continue to look splendid until the first frosts, in nature’s never ending cycle. Before then the gardens will be bedecked with Autumn colour, at its finest in October and November.