In the Spring, Exbury Gardens comes alive with its world-famous collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. At their best during May, wander through the woodland gardens to the Azalea Bowl. Also enjoy the camellias and magnolias and the spring bulbs in the Daffodil Meadow and River of Gold.
During the Summer, walk along the shady paths to the Sundial and Centenary Gardens. Discover the Herbaceous Borders near the house and the newly planted Iris Garden. Or take a stroll along the River Walk and watch the boats on the Beaulieu River.
Autumn’s arrival at Exbury is celebrated with the vibrant red and orange of the acers and the National Plant Collection of nyssa trees.
Don’t miss the Dragonfly Pond which was opened by naturalist and broadcaster Nick Baker on 17th July 2021. It has been designated a Dragonfly Hotspot by the British Dragonfly Society.
If you have time, take a ride on the Steam Railway – you’ll need to buy a separate ticket.
Exbury is still owned by the Rothschilds.
Evidence of a manor at Exbury date from 13th century and by 1718, the house was
owned by a William Mitford.
In early 1880s, Exbury was bought by Major John Forster who sold the estate in 1919 to Lionel de Rothschild. Using the architects Messrs Romaine–Walker and Jenkins, de Rothschild remodelled the house in the neo-Georgian style.
Lionel was a keen gardener – it was said that he was ‘a banker by hobby and a gardener by profession’. The climate and soil were perfect at Exbury for growing rhododendrons – many of them were grown from seed sent back to England by plant collectors including Frank Kingdon-Ward, George Forrest and Joseph Rock. The Gardens were first opened to the public in the 1930s with the entrance fees shared between local charities.
A few months after Lionel’s sudden death in 1942, Exbury was requisitioned by the Admiralty and became one of a number of stone frigates. She was called HMS Mastodon and was involved with the planning of the D–Day landings. After the War, Exbury became a training base for the Royal Navy.
The estate was returned to the family in 1955 and Lionel’s son Edmund began the task of restoring the garden to its former glory.