It always astonishes me how we can live in a place for several years or all of our lives and not know about wonderful places that are literally minutes away! One such place is the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. This 50 acre garden is located a few minutes from downtown Orlando! It is a bit of tropical peace & quiet not far from the bustle of Orlando. Orlando has used the title, The City Beautiful, for many years and this wonderful garden definitely is part of that!
Some details from Wikipedia:
The Harry P Leu Gardens are semi-tropical and tropical gardens in Orlando, Florida, United States. The gardens contain nearly 50 acres (200,000 m2) of landscaped grounds and lakes, with meandering trails shaded by 200-year-old oaks and forests of camellias. They are open to the public. The address is 1920 North Forest Avenue Orlando, FL 32803.
A 15-acre (61,000 m2) section of the park is a U.S. historic district. As such, it is known as the Mizell-Leu House Historic District (or Leu Botanical Gardens and Leu House Museum). It received that designation on December 29, 1994. According to the National Register of Historic Places, it contains 3 historic buildings.
The Leu Gardens were started by Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Leu, who in 1936 purchased Leu House and 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land. The Leus traveled all over the world and brought back many exotic plants and many varieties (240) of camellias for their gardens. In 1961, the Leus deeded the house and the gardens to the city of Orlando.
At the heart of the Gardens is Harry and Mary Jane Leu’s home, known as the Leu House Museum, which has been meticulously restored and is on the National Historical Register. Guided tours of the Leu House, illustrating turn-of-the century Florida living, are available on the hour and the half-hour (times subject to change).
The entrance to the gardens is through a modern and spacious reception building. They have a gift shop, restrooms and meeting/event rooms and facilities. They have rooms and outdoor venues for weddings and events throughout the gardens. I saw several gazebos and areas that could be used for wedding ceremonies.
For me, the best of all this, are the flowers! I roamed around the gardens for several hours, making images everywhere. The Arid Garden, Rose Garden and Butterfly Garden were my favorites!
The Arid Garden is full of cacti and succulents.
The Rose Garden is huge. The bushes were full of blooms so I spent a lot of time looking for perfect roses and it was not hard to do!
I thought the rose garden would be hard to top until I found the Butterfly garden! I could have stayed there for 2 hours but since it was in the direct sun on a 90 degree + day I quickly shot as many of the flowers there that I could and moved on to a more shady area.
They have a dish garden garden, kitchen garden, white garden, color garden, tropical stream garden and several more.
The Leu has special events throughout the year and the day I was there, they still had a special display of some unusual critters. They had very lifelike dinosaurs situated in various parts of the gardens. It sure made the kids get some exercise looking for all the species!
There were many butterflies in the flower gardens but since it was very warm, they were flying much too fast to be able to capture them with my camera. I heard & saw many birds but since I was primarily shooting macros I did not have the correct lens for birds until I heard a Carolina Wren nearby. I looked in a bush and saw a youngster perched there waiting for its parent to come back. I was shooting with my Tamron 180mm macro lens so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised to get this image!
I have to go back to the flower images, though, as there were so many to shoot!
The Harry P Leu Gardens is about 75 minutes from my home so I will be going back there again, for sure! If you are in Central Florida I highly recommend a visit to these gardens. It is a nice change from the other crowded attractions in the Orlando area. For more details about the Harry P Leu Gardens, events and venues visit their website.
For the images above, I used my Nikon D810 body with the Nikon 24-70mm lens and the Tamron 180mm lens. I used Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop as well as the plugins: Macphun’s Focus CK & Topaz Lab’s Topaz Glow 2 and Topaz Impressions 2 for my post processing.
I took my Infrared converted camera with me to see things in a “different” light! Part 2 will be that different point of view of these lovely gardens.
Please visit my gallery to see these images and many more.
That is all for now!