Exbury Gardens celebrating its centenary year opens a new ‘secret’ garden & announces plans for RHS Chelsea

Exbury Centenary Garden, built and grown in secret, now open to the public

Exbury Centenary Garden, built and grown in secret, now open to the public

Hampshire’s Exbury Gardens is marking its centenary with the unveiling of a new ‘secret’ garden and plans for a showcase display at the world’s most famous flower show, RHS Chelsea.

Created by Lionel de Rothschild in 1919, a passionate collector of plants and a keen supporter and sponsor of the early 20th century plant hunters, Exbury has grown to become a stunning garden paradise in the New Forest filled with rare plants, shrubs and trees.

Now its gates are open to the public for the 2019 season, visitors can get their first glimpse of a new Centenary Garden designed by Lionel’s great grand-daughter and RHS gold medal award-winning designer, Marie-Louise Agius. This was planted within Exbury Gardens in 2017 and has been carefully hidden from public view, whilst it grows and matures. Contemporary in style, it contains subtle nods to the family history and has been planted with a particular focus on late summer.

A stream of spring bulbs is also starting to bloom. Around 100,000 yellow and blue (Rothschild family colours) bulbs have been planted in the lawns, weaving around rare trees near Exbury House, to give a centenary colour burst including daffodils, crocus and bluebells.

Bottom pond in spring Exbury Gardens-©Cathryn Baldock

Visitors can get the chance to learn about the extraordinary story behind this garden which was originally created over just 20 years before the outbreak of WW2 in a special exhibition next to the main entrance and ticket office.  An official history book will also be published later in the year.

Exbury’s famous rhododendrons will be showcased at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2019 in a collaboration with experts Millais Nurseries. Exbury and Millais have been working together to conserve some of the more rare and threatened rhododendrons in their collection. The display will aim to evoke the ‘spirit’ of Exbury Gardens.

Thomas Clarke, head gardener at Exbury, said: “The 1920s were the golden age of woodland gardening and Exbury, under the careful eye of Lionel de Rothschild and his staff, was at the cutting edge of this movement. The location, climate, existing oak woodland and acid soil all allowed for the creation of one of the finest gardens of its kind in the UK. Combine this with the legacy of the great plant hunters, and the extensive plant breeding programme at Exbury, and we are fortunate enough to have inherited a truly wonderful garden packed full of horticultural treasures.

“In this centenary year we are delighted to be unveiling some fantastic new projects plus a continued focus on our work to conserve and develop the plants and landscape at Exbury for the next 100 years.”

Exbury Gardens steam railway

Exbury Gardens, located in the New Forest near Southampton, will open daily until 3 November 2019 10am – 5.30pm. Adult tickets £12.50, children (3-15yrs) £4, under 3s are free and a family ticket is £29. Full information at www.exbury.co.uk


For further press information contact PR Emma Mason on 07762 117433 emma@emmamasonpr.co.uk or Celise Galloway on 023 8024 5754 celise.galloway@exbury.co.uk