“ Address: Southampton / Hampshire SO45 1AZ / England „
That has to be my first word to sum up the review of this attraction in the exquisite new forest as these gardens exube beauty and magic in each and every corner.
Exbury gardens is located in the new forest just near to beaulieu and is very easily found by car. Its one of the most famous attractions of the forest and hosts thousands of tourists each year, through all seasons as well as winter. It is a mass of beautifully planted wooded area made by Lionel Nathen de Rothschild and his protoge and has since its opening won cupulous awards for its beauty and status from the RHS.
The attraction is a must for all families to visit whilst in the new forest. The magic of the gardens is amass with colours, exotic and rare spieces of plants and tress, hidden corners and crevices and the incredible magic about this area is the intensity of the colours through each season, albiet changing throughout. In the summer I have regularly come across almost fields awash with bright pink petals and contrasting fields of yellow, green, violet and red. The ornate structures of the gardens brings an immediate connection with mother nature and the beauty and creativity that she brings.
My favourite part of the gardens as well as the flowers and plants is the steam railway which is a huge hit with my 3 year old daughter. This railway is open everyday at specific times thoughout and it goes over pretty much all of the gardens, which is wonderful and well worth a trip. The best thing is they do the themed railway at halloween, easter and christmas and I have only ever been on the halloween ride but its the best halloween event suitable for children alike Ive come across. With masked and costumed characters throughout the whole ride and stories throughout make this fun, entertaining and humourous.
The gardens host to a maze of events throughout the year and they cater for conferances and weddings also. Organised walks, runs, exhibitions, plant hunts, photographic walks and events for easter, halloween and christmas all make up part of this wonderful place, and is not just a garden to view but a day out for all the family.
There is a restaurant at the gardens to eat and drink and it hosts various on the pathway ice cream stands and coffee sections throughout however if you intend to eat at the restaurant make sure your wallet is full because this isnt cheap. The meals are lovely however. Tea and coffee can just be purchased. I would recommened taking a picnic and lathering up the beautiful surroundings in the gardens somewhere secret as this will attract your brain far more so, especially in the summer months.
The prices to get in for the day are as follows:
Overall not to bad and if you look out there are plenty of vouchers avaliable to for this attraction on the back of leaflets and online. Overall a great day out for the family, and a magical place to encounter.
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway are set in the grounds of the Rothschild's Estate in Exbury - the New Forest. The main house is private, but there are 200 acres to explore which include the woods, and a daffodil meadow and the grounds go right to the bank of Beaulieu River.
When you get into the grounds there are buggies that hold around 6 people that you can use if you are unable to walk very far, and you will be given a guided tour of the gardens by the driver. The buggies come around every 15 minutes and are a good way of getting around the park if you are less mobile or just fancy a ride.
We wanted to walk around the grounds, partly as a nod to being healthy, but mostly because it was a glorious June day and we wanted to be able to take in all the sights and smells of the gardens. There are several main paths that you can take through the grounds, which are all very well signposted, but we quickly wandered off the main path to use some of the smaller trails that took you right into the heart of the gardens where you could see some hidden gems like: -
The History Tree - which is a huge old tree that had come down exposing the rings inside the trunk. Part of the trunk has been sliced and put in a frame, and they have marked each ring with the year it represents and noted the major events from that year from when it was planted in 1728.
The Dogs Graves - what it says really, 7 tiny grave stones all in a row for the dogs that the Rothschild's have lost over the years. It is quite touching to read the headstones of Jip, Bessie and the others.
The Wiggley Tree - This is a massive tree, which has grown more like a bush, with around 5 different trunks coming out of the ground at all angles. It is so big and twisted that it has to be supported by wooden structures - a magnificent sight.
There are three Woods - Witchers Wood, Yard Wood and Home Wood which have some magnificent old tree specimens and younger trees planted by well known people - I saw trees that had been planted by the Queen, Princess Diana and other members of the Royal Family, and I'm pretty sure I saw one that had been planted by Pope John Paul, although how much double digging and watering in they actually did I don't know!
There are several other gardens, including Camellia Walk, The Winter Garden, The American Garden, and the Bog Garden to name but a few, and you can stop off for refreshments at one of the Tea Rooms, or take your own and sit on one of the many benches, just watching the world go by.
Unfortunately we didn't get enough time to go on the Steam Railway, which was a shame because there are some gardens that you can only see on the train. I believe it costs an extra £7 per adult to go on the train, which I found a little disappointing after paying the entrance fee already.
If you enjoy a good walk this is a good place to visit. I went in June, and the gardens were a riot of colour, with squirrels running around the place, ducks on the pond, and bumble bee's enjoying the flowers. There is a good sized car park, and even though there were a lot of visitors on the day we went, the gardens are so big, with hidden nooks and cranny's that it feels like you are the only ones there.
It costs £8.00 for an adult, and £1.50 for a child, and children under 3 go in for free. There are various concessions for groups, OAP's and families. If you are lucky you might find leaflets in some of the tourist information offices in the area which have vouchers entitling you to a Buy One, Get One Free offer.
A spectacular 200 acre site, world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs. Tour the gardens while relaxing on the train for a 20 minute journey.