Along the banks of the Beaulieu River, just across from Buckler’s Hard in Hampshire, and just a few miles south of Beaulieu itself, Exbury Gardens were the inspiration of one of the scions of the Rothschild family, Lionel Nathan de Rothschild. Created in the 1920s and covering more than 81 hectares (200 acres), Exbury Gardens were laid out to house Rothschild’s famous collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, including more than 1000 hybrids that he developed.
We visited at the beginning of July along with Hannah and Philippa and their families while on holiday in the New Forest.
Of course, most of the rhododendrons had flowered by then, and the display earlier in the year must have been truly spectacular.
But there are still plenty of lovely things to see: one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, lakes and water gardens, havens of tranquillity throughout the gardens, and slightly more formal herbaceous beds close to the house (which is not open to the public). There is one part of the garden that is only accessible by a narrow gauge steam train.
I never cease to be inspired by the originators of gardens and parkland, and the visions they had centuries ago or more recently as they planted trees that they never expected to see grow to maturity. They have, through their visions, left much of beauty for posterity.