Chelsea Brighton
May, 2006

After breakfast May 20th, we boarded our coach for Leonardslee Gardens, a paradise in spring! Leonardslee Gardens were laid out by Sir Leonard Loder in 1889 and today they are still maintained by the Loder family. The gardens are world famous for acid-loving ornamental trees and shrubs. The collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias is one of the most spectacular to be seen anywhere and offer an amazing sense of colour. The rhododendrons to be seen at Leonardslee include the famous 'Rhododendron loderi' raised by Sir Edmund Loder in 1901. The flowering shrubs, under-planted with spring bulbs and bluebells, are a blaze of colour in May. The seven lakes in the garden give wonderful reflections and views. Leonardslee also has a charming Rock Garden which is full of colour in May. A walled courtyard garden gives shelter to a splendid exhibition of Bonsai trees. The Alpine House has a magnificent collection of 400 different alpine plants growing in a natural rocky setting. For over 100 years wallabies have lived wild in part of the garden. These beautiful creatures are used as natural mowing machines! There are also Sika, Fallow and Axis deer in the parkland. The Loder family collection of Victorian motor cars (1895 to 1900) is also on display at Leonardslee. These vehicles provide a fascinating insight into the differing designs of the early motor manufacturers. As you can see, it was stunning! (ends with big tree)

We then visited Nymans Garden…(starts with bluebells, ends with white camellia) The present house and garden reflects most strongly the influence of Leonard Messel and his wife Maud who inherited it in 1915 and had three children. One of these was Oliver, one of the most creative theatre designers of his day, whose nephew was Lord Snowdon. In total three generations of the Messel family have lived at Nymans, from the late 1800's until 1947 when the house was tragically destroyed by fire. Subsequently the surviving rooms were still used, occasionally to entertain friends and as a base from which to run the garden. Following Col. Messel's death in 1953, Nymans became one of the first gardens to be transferred to the National Trust. Today the ruined house still provides a romantic background for the garden. The garden is laid out in a series of rooms the different levels connected by stone steps or grassy slopes, the 'rooms' are separated by hedges walls or trees which provide shelter for the rare and exotic plants for which the garden is renowned. The individual gardens include the Wall Garden (the oldest), The Knot Garden, The Rose Garden, The Top Garden, The Sunk Garden, The Pinetum and several others. The garden has been designed to surprise and inspire all year round but as usual is at its very best in the spring and summer.






  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row