Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Exbury Gardens, Hampshire, England

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway

Located in the New Forest, Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, England, belongs to a
 branch of the Rothschild family. 
It is situated just to the East of Beaulieu. 

Primroses (Primula vulgaris)

We traveled to the gardens  in the morning, myself, my sister and a childhood friend.
Our first order of the day was to have lunch in the Tea Garden - then off we went to explore the gardens. As we entered the grounds it was immediately obvious that the views are spectacular.

Exbury House

Once again, as we walked, we became immersed in the ancient history of the area. The first recorded reference to Exbury is in the Doomsday Book of 1086 where the village is noted down as being called Teocrabrae. There is very little recorded until the purchase of the estate in 1726 by William Mitford. One of his first acts was to plant the cedars of Lebanon near his farm (later to become Exbury House) plus many avenues of trees radiating out from the House. 
The house is still occupied from time to time by the de Rothschild family, and is not open to the public

Yellow Rhododendron - named after 'Naomi Rothschild'

The Gardens are a spectacular 200-acre site, world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs. Lionel Nathan de Rothschild purchased the Exbury estate in 1919 and soon set to creating a garden on an ambitious scale  It is often considered the finest garden of its type in the United Kingdom.

The Azalea Bowl  

The evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons are gorgeousWe opted to ride on the Head Gardener's motorized Buggy around the grounds.He was an excellent tour guide with a great sense of  'British' humor.We were so busy taking photos of every flower that we could see that I have just realized we didn't take his photo, but I am sure he would understand :-)

Lovers Lane leads towards the Beaulieu River, flanked on both sides 
with  banks of deciduous azaleas. The blooms are deliciously scented.

A wonderful flowering season for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. 

Yes, there were others visiting on the same day. 
In actual fact,  there are more than  100,000 annual  visitors from all corners of the
 world who come to  enjoy the Exbury legacy.

The Top Pond is the largest in a series of three concrete-lined, ornamental ponds created by Lionel de Rothschild and fed by a natural spring. A full display of Exbury deciduous azaleas surrounds the pond with fiery colors; primulas and iris fringe the water’s edge; and giant carp and golden orfe can be seen swimming lazily.

The Exbury Gardens Steam Railway Station

I realize, once again, that I didn't take a photo of the train. Just too busy looking at the flowers. Those of you who know me well are aware that  I am totally addicted to flowers and the wonderful gifts provided to us by Mother Nature. :-)

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non scipta) 

Providing a carpet of blue at the entrance to The Glade.
One of the most magnificent sights in England at springtime are the 
carpets of of bluebells in the woodlands.

Once again, we were reminded of the centuries of recorded history that is available to us. In the 1700's the economy of Exbury was based on sheep, general crops and a two-pan salt works. When the latter closed Exbury opened a brickworks, which operated up until the First World War. The Mitfords built the current Exbury village using the characteristic yellow bricks made in this area.

Another wonderful day. 
Good company and beautiful scenery - all is right with the world!
What more could a woman want in life?

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