Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Day in the Garden

My wife and I took Friday off so we could do something we have been meaning to do for the past eight years but just never seemed to get around to: visit Leonardslee Gardens.

Leonardslee, one of the prettiest gardens in England.

Leonardslee is just down the road from us. Hence the reason we have never visited; who wants to see something that is right in their own back yard? But Leonardslee is well worth the visit. It is one of the largest and most spectacular gardens in England and the Loder family—who own it—are also responsible for two other magnificent Sussex gardens: The High Beeches and Wakehurst Place. These have been a splendid trio of gardens for many years, though sadly, they are soon to be twins.

Bluebells in bloom at Leonardslee.

Wakehurst Place is now safely in the hands of the The National Trust and The high Beeches, though privately owned, is still going strong, but after five generations of overseeing the gardens at Leonardslee, the Loader family is packing it in. This is to be their last season; after this, the fate of the garden is uncertain.

Rumor has it that they sold out to some Russian zillionaire (who else, after all, could afford it) who is no doubt connected with the Russian mafia (name me a Russian zillionaire who isn’t).

Imagine this as a landfill site.

I realize the new generation of Loders probably has other ambitions aside from gardening, but it is surely a shame to see the tradition come to an end. The new owners are very likely already engaged in “negations” (“Nice house you have here; be a shame if something were to happen to it”) with local Councillors to gain permission to use the valley as a landfill so they can level the ground off and build high-rise tenements on it.

Leonardslee is also home to the largest Wallaby herd in Sussex (though, really, how many would you need to have to gain that particular title?).  The Wallabies, naturally, will have to go; you can't have them roaming feral around the car parks of the tenements, can you?  I expect the new owners will host a combination Grouse and Wallaby Shoot during their first season, followed by a massive Walla-barbee-Q.

Taste like chicken.

I’m just glad we made the effort to see these stunning gardens, and the adorable wallabies, while there was still time.


  1. Anonymous10:33 PM

    They're selling off bits of Britain a little at a time aren't they? Bah! What will happen to the Wallabies? Poor babies.

  2. Yes. First the Shipley Windmill, and now this.

  3. I gotta admit, I'm not so keen on the wallabies in England thing. Sort of reminds me of the first Brits to visit Australia, and who brought back kangaroos and aboriginals to show off to their friends. Ick.

  4. Yes, the Victorians were keen trophy hunters, and it didn't matter if the trophy belonged to someone else (e.g. Elgin Marbles) or happened to be an actual human being.

  5. Mike, slight pedantry here: the Elgin Marbles were appropriated about seven years before Victoria was even born, and 25 years before the beginning of the Victorian era.

    And now a query: have trophies never been collected in the US?

  6. Howard: Pre-Victorians, then?

    Don't know about the the US; that's outside the scope of the post. Interesting idea for a topic though, perhaps another time.

  7. > Don't know about the the US; that's outside the scope of the post. Interesting idea for a topic though, perhaps another time.

    Well, I was teasing slightly, Mike, since I already know the answer, as would anyone who had read accounts of Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit(yes,that name makes me giggle too!) Colonel Cody et al. And I presume American zoos are not restricted to exhibiting animals indigenous only to North America? :-)

    I just didn't want anyone reading this correspondence to go away with the thought that trophy-hunting and animal collection was an exclusively British folly. As for the forced abduction and relocation of peoples, we can all think of a particular nation which persisted far longer in this loathsome activity than the others, can't we?