Sometimes the best-kept secrets and surprises are hiding in plain sight. Such is the case with 50-acre Leu Gardens, a serene space for spotting beautiful blooms, that provides an urban escape for the whole family.© Patrick Connolly A barred owl is perched in a tree at Leu Gardens in Orlando on Aug. 3, 2020.
Many Central Florida residents and visitors are already familiar with Leu’s diverse landscape and floral offerings, so perhaps this local treasure isn’t a well-kept secret. But it’s always worth another visit to see what’s in bloom or to explore special events.
When wandering the space, be sure to investigate nearly a dozen different garden habitats. Near the entrance, a Tropical Stream Garden showcases bananas and bromeliads, while the Idea Garden illustrates horticulture techniques and garden designs for backyard inspiration.© Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel A 65-foot tunnel of lights is one focal point of Dazzling Nights, a new holiday lights event at Leu Gardens that began in 2020.
The herb, vegetable and butterfly gardens sit side-by-side, showing what edibles are in season for aspiring green thumbs to learn. Other highlights include the Rose Garden and Color Garden. This botanical oasis also serves as home to the largest documented camellia collection in Eastern North America.
When searching for garden fauna, keep an eye out for barred owls, which are known to take residence in the gardens, plus woodpeckers and songbirds. By Lake Rowena, spot anhingas, cormorants, herons and ducks.© Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel The living room of the Leu House Museum shows period couches, an ornamental rug, a piano and other antique furniture within Leu Gardens.
Leu Gardens also contains a storied history, which visitors can learn about during a visit to the Leu House Museum, open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Tour guides detail previous owners of the home and surrounding gardens including the Mizell family, Duncan Pell and Helen Gardner, the Woodward family and finally, Harry P. Leu. In 1961, the Orlando businessman donated his home and gardens to the City of Orlando.
In addition to the botanical delights experienced during a daytime visit, the gardens host special events to keep locals coming back. Explore outdoor movie nights, an annual plant sale, classes, camps, plant clinics and horticultural resources. Visitors might also be interested in exhibits sometimes known to pop up at Leu Gardens including the Fairy Doors, dinosaurs and a holiday special: Dazzling Nights.
Location: 1920 North Forest Ave. in Orlando
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: $10 per adult, $5 per child ages 4-17
Amenities: Paved paths, benches, handicap accessible, event venue, gift shop, museum, overlook, interpretive signs, restrooms, water fountains, parking
Activities: Walking, geocaching, outdoor education, wildlife viewing
Accessibility: Leu Gardens is accessible for people using wheelchairs and powered scooters. Complimentary wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the welcome center.
What to bring: A hat and sunscreen can come in handy when spending a few hours outdoors in the gardens. Maps, available in the welcome center, are useful when navigating the urban green space.
What not to bring: Skateboards and bicycles are prohibited in the gardens. Picnics, blankets and alcohol are also not allowed except in the case of evening special events. Recreational activities are not permitted.
Pets: Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not permitted at Leu Gardens.
Pro tips: Central Florida residents may benefit from a Leu Gardens annual membership, which features free visits and special member pricing on events, plus some included guest passes. Individual senior passes (ages 60 and older) are $35, regular individual passes are $40 and a household membership is $50. If it’s open, be sure to take a tour of the Leu House Museum.
More information: 407-246-2620 or leugardens.org
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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tripideas/florida-fresh-air-leu-gardens-is-orlando-e2-80-99s-50-acre-botanical-oasis/ar-AAPPgkF1590