Leonardslee featured on BBC Gardeners World

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Historic Sussex Gardens featured on BBC TV Gardeners World after Major Restoration Project

The estate is identifying them and sharing the seed bank with Kew Gardens, says Ray Abraham:

There are some 450 species of rhododendron in the gardens, around half the number of those to be found anywhere in the world. Plants highlighted in the programme included Rhododendron ‘White Glory’ and the rare Rhododendron Hodgsonii - the valleys where they grow in China are now dammed and flooded.

The gardens are landscaped in a valley around a series of lakes that were dug out for iron ore to produce cannonballs for Oliver Cromwell’s army.

Leonardslee also features a Pulham rock garden, dolls’ house museum and a colony of wallabies. The Grade II Listed mansion house offers visitors classic high tea, whilst Restaurant Interlude is rapidly building a reputation for fine dining with its locally foraged tasting menu. There is a year-round programme of events on the estate.

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens is open 10:00 - 18:00 hours April 1st to October 31st; and 10:00 - 16:00 hours November 1st to March 31st March. Dogs on leads are welcome.

Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens near Horsham, Sussex, was featured on BBC TV Gardeners’ World on Friday, May 31st, following the spring 2019 opening of the 240-acre estate - after one of the most significant garden restoration projects in the UK in nearly 30 years.

Owner Penny Streeter OBE described on the programme how she first came upon the historic woodland gardens, which were closed to the public and neglected for nine years, and then set about transforming Leonardslee back to its former glory in a 20-month project.

Head gardener Ray Abraham gave Gardeners’ World presenter Joe Swift a tour of Leonardslee gardens and described the detailed restoration work. This included careful pruning and extensive clearance of neglected and overgrown areas and the rebuilding of nearly 10 miles of pathways through the woodlands.

The Grade I Listed gardens feature outstanding displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, and magnolias. Plants were added to the collection from all over the world in the 1800s by the owners at the time, the Loder family, including several plants that are now threatened in their natural habitat.

Emily Grey