Exbury Gardens are located just 30 minutes from Southampton yet it feels like you’ve been transported to another world!
More than 100 years in the making, Exbury is a spectacular collection of landscaped woodland and herbaceous, contemporary and formal gardens in a wonderful riverside location.
These beautiful gardens are the creation of Lionel de Rothschild who bought the estate in 1919. Soon after, he cleared the land and installed a complex underground irrigation system to produce the 200 acres of woodland and formal gardens you can explore today.
Lionel’s plans, however, were halted by the war in 1939 and, sadly, he died three years later. During the war years, Exbury House was requisitioned by the Admiralty. Fortunately, when the war ended, Lionel’s son, Edmund, restored the gardens to their former glory and opened them for public enjoyment.
Today, this vast estate with its maze of paths provides a surprise around every corner. But if you fancy a taster before setting off on your walk, jump aboard the picturesque steam railway trundling its way through the easternmost corner of the gardens, taking in the Rock Garden and Dragon Fly Pond.
The gardens are not only well designed but well signposted, too; that said, it’s hard to follow every little path because there are so many!
Exbury is a garden for all seasons but is, arguably, best known for its azaleas and rhododendrons. Visiting during the first week in June, we were lucky to see them in all their glory. But whenever you go, you’ll find yourselves stopping every few paces to photograph the seemingly endless array of colours.
Other highlights include the 50-year-old wisteria (the crown and glory of the Sundial Garden), the formal Herbaceous Gardens and, although not blooming during our visit, the Daffodil Meadow and River of Gold which are a riot of colour in spring.
With plenty of picnic tables and benches dotted around, it’s easy to make a day of your visit. If you don’t want to bring your sandwiches, there is a restaurant and take-away establishments; and if your visit inspires you to create your own little Exbury at home, why not buy a few plants from the shop?
Tel: 023 8089 1203