The 200 acre Grade I listed valley garden in West Sussex was the destination for our annual coach trip on Sunday, a sunny day but not too hot. Event organiser Terry effected a last-minute switch of coach company, which ensured that the trip could go ahead.
Leonardslee is famous for its spring plantings of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolia trees, which cover the steep-sided slopes; although by June most had finished flowering, they provided a magnificent backdrop of different shapes and shades of green to the 7 mostly man-made lakes. Armed with a map showing the numerous trails, many members enjoyed the walks through the rhododendron woods and along the ponds, stopping to admire the dragonflies and damselflies flitting over the water, or the huge carp just below the surface. Although we had missed the colour display in the spring, coming later gave us a much more peaceful time there. It also allowed us to admire the Kousa dogwood trees covered in white flowers, including a magnificent pink-flowering one.
As well as the valley gardens, there were other attractions: a rock garden, a glass house (with pond!), a wallaby colony introduced in 1889, a vineyard with wine-tastings and a wall-to-wall collection of dolls’ houses, shops and Victorian village scenes.
There were various cafes where we could spend the pre-loaded cards given to us on coffee or lunch, and a gift shop and plant sales area, and before we knew it, it was time to get back on the coach, ending another successful Grayshott Gardeners visit.