1919, Lionel Nathan de Rothschild of the famous banking family
purchased Exbury Estate with a vision to create the finest
woodland gardens in the country.
The Estate was blessed with a temperate climate, moderate
rainfall and an acidic soil, all of which were suitable for
rhododendrons and azaleas. With the wealth available
to Rothschild, he was able to quickly clear the woodlands and
lay out the garden. Over 22 miles of underground piping was
laid for the irrigation system. Work on the property halted
with the beginning of the war in 1939 and the estate was taken
over by the Royal Navy as a staging area for the D-Day
invasions in 1942.
Today, Exbury consists of over 200 acres of landscaped
woodlands near the Beaulieu River in Hampshire. Over 120,000
people visit each year to see the famous collections of
rhododendrons, azaleas and rare and magnificent specimen
There are rock gardens, cascades,
ponds, a water garden,
heather garden and
rose garden. May is probably the peak time
to visit for the rhododendrons. However, there is something of
interest during most of the season.