Leonardslee Gardens opens in November for first time in its history

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens is now open to the public throughout November and through to March for the first time in its history.

Leonardslee Gardens Maple Walk SUS-191111-151921001

It will be open between 9am and 4pm during the autumn and winter period, and will only close on Christmas Day.

The rock garden and three paths will be closed until mid-December due to essential renovation work.

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Adam Streeter, general manager, said: “Autumn is very special at Leonardslee, with magnificent displays in the woodland gardens as the leaves turn, and the colours reflected on the seven lakes in the valley.

“We have rebuilt the paths, so there are many great walks, in any weather, and dogs on leads are welcome too. We are planting thousands of bulbs and introducing snowbells and other plants to bring the main flowering season forward, to enjoy earlier in the year.

“Also we have an extensive new programme of events in the autumn and winter months and planned throughout 2020. ‘Shopfest’ on November 17th is a showcase for an inspiring collection of art, crafts and handmade goods by independent business pop-ups exhibiting lifestyle, fashion and homeware.

“A further highlight in the gardens is ‘Leonarslee Illuminated’ - with woodland trails lit up for a festival of light, sound and festive cheer. This runs from December 12 to 15, and 19 to 22.”

Popular woodland areas to visit in the gardens to see the autumn colours include the American Hickory trees, with fluorescent yellow leaves; Kasura or Candy Floss trees, whose unusual oval-shaped leaves change to a light orange colour and produce a strong fragrance of burnt sugar; Black Gum trees, a brilliant red and yellow; the North American oaks that tower over the garden; and the Swamp Cypresses with their dazzling orange colours, found along the edges of the lakes.

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens opened to the public on April 6 this year after a decade’s closure.

The opening followed two years’ major restoration work on the Grade 1 Listed gardens and on-site facilities by Penny Streeter OBE who acquired the estate in 2017.

The extensive garden collection of plants from around the world dates from 1888, when Sir Edmund bought Leonardslee from his in-laws. From this period, parties were invited to visit the estate, which continued in the ownership of the Loder family until 2010.

It recently came to the attention of the owners that perhaps the most infamous visitors to the estate included Hermann Goering, Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, and Joachim Von Ribbentrop, the Third Reich’s Ambassador to the UK, who visited in July 1939, just weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War. It is believed that Goering selected the Leonardslee Estate as his proposed post-invasion headquarters.

For more information, visit www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk/