Harry P. Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a 50-acre floral paradise just a few minutes from downtown Orlando. It is located at 1920 N. Forest Avenue. Every garden is specifically created to further our purpose, which is to increase people’s knowledge and appreciation of plants. Within the ensemble, there are ten distinct types of smaller gardens, including the rose garden, white garden, tropical garden, and idea garden.

Harry P. Leu Gardens provides a huge selection of horticulture, landscaping, and fine arts workshops and activities for both kids and adults. Over 40 distinct plant collections from across the globe are represented in the stunningly landscaped gardens, including a tropical rainforest, Florida’s biggest formal rose garden, and an incredible butterfly garden.

The Harry P. Leu Gardens’ grounds are dotted with winding roads that meander among the numerous plant collections, enabling visitors to enjoy a tour of a park that is not only enormous geographically but also exceptional in its breadth.

It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Christmas. It costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids (ages 4 to 17), and children under 3 are free. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Leu Gardens also grants free entrance to mothers and fathers.

Both Universal Studios and the Orlando International Airport are 30 minutes from the gardens. Disneyland is over an hour away.

History

The Mizell Family originally acquired ownership of the site in 1858 and began farming cotton, sugarcane, and maize on it. Helen Gardner and her husband, Duncan Pell, became the next owners. The Woodward family took over after that and expanded the home to its current size.

Harry P. Leu and Mary Jane began the Leu Gardens after buying Leu House and 40 acres of land in 1936. The home is named after him. The couple visited several countries and returned with 240 species of camellias for their gardens. The Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando were founded due to Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Leu’s practice of bringing home exotic plants.

The home and gardens were bequeathed to the City of Orlando in 1961 when the couple passed away. The verdant grounds are today a lovely and interesting destination for aspiring horticulturists.

Attractions and Amenities

Leu Gardens contains a lot of wooded areas with mature mid-and understory layers, giant live oaks, and other natural canopy trees that offer animals food and shelter. Many species of songbird, such as the Yellow-throated Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler, breed throughout the spring and autumn.

Thanks to the three kilometers of paved paths and walkways, you can explore the numerous display gardens. There are several tables and covered areas throughout. The butterfly garden has a wide variety of native plants that attract several species of butterflies, including Monarch and Polydamas Swallowtails.

The sprawling Harry P. Leu Gardens are close to the charming Lake Rowena. Anyone may view and take pictures of the many birds congregating in this area. Through its observation platform and gazebo, you can see a Green Heron, a rare Limpkin, or wintering waterfowl. You may just stand there and soak it all in at the Lake Rowena Overlook. 

The garden area is also dotted with various pieces of art. The “Citrus Worker,” “Girl on a Scooter,” and “Doves of Peace” are a few of the well-known ones. Additionally, the Leu House Museum often has some exquisite items on exhibit. While many of them are changing displays, some of them are permanent.

The Leu House Museum, the meticulously restored home of Harry and Mary Jane Leu in the center of the gardens, is listed on the National Historic Register. Visitors may enjoy the home’s both ongoing and sporadic art exhibitions. On the hour and the half-hour, guided tours of the Leu House, which depicts life in Florida at the turn of the century, are offered.

The park has a 15-acre historic area. The area is referred to as the Mizell-Leu House Historic District. On December 29, 1994, such a designation was given to it. There are educational activities available all year long. Monthly meetings of the Orange Audubon Society are held at the Garden House location.

Best Time to Visit

Springtime, between March and May, is the ideal time to visit any place in Orlando or the Southern United States, especially the Leu Botanical Gardens. The temperature is not too high, and the weather is lovely. The flowers are in full bloom—the ideal time to visit an outdoor garden.