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