Skip to my Leu Gardens

In our many trips to Winter Park over the years, we've not once visited Leu Gardens. With all of the free activities in the city, we've always prided ourselves on not paying the steep admission fee so that we'd drive home with an extra twenty dollars in our pockets. This time, things would be different. On the last day of our honeymoon, the missus and I sought to rectify this omission once and for all.

After making our way across the smoldering asphalt, we found relief in cool air conditioning, a water fountain, and a reduced admission fee! Seven dollars a piece was enough to buy us an entire day of exploring. We arrived at three o'clock however, too fashionably late to take in all of the sights before closing time at five, so we had a mere two hours to suffer under the relentless sun... I mean, enjoy the gardens.

While the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has a reputation as the botanical garden to visit in Florida, Leu Gardens is extraordinary in its own unassuming way. Harry P. Leu Gardens lies in zone 9b, and is a lot less tropical than the Fairchild's 10b climate, and the division between temperate and tropical climates is blurred. As a result, you're likely to find camellias and roses intermingling with heliconias and tropical fruit trees.It does freeze here, just enough to keep things interesting.

I spent my two hours zipping back and forth between shady respites from the blazing sun, feverishly snapping photos before dashing away to another shady area. Where was Mrs. Rainforest Gardener this whole time? Lounging beneath pergolas and live oaks, taking in the sights from a comfortable vantage point. There were so many areas of the gardens that would have been great places to stroll, but the sun turned classical rose gardens and cottage gardens into inhospitable wastelands. The colors were bleached and faded by the blinding light until a cloud passed overhead, briefly revealing a glimpse of the beautiful plants before the sun jumped out again, blotting out the pastel colors with searing white. I kept to those darker patches where the sun couldn't follow.

Alcantarea imperialis surrounded by purple heart. What a combo!

My wifey enjoying the shade. Isn't she lovely?

Neoregelia "Fireball" clambering out of its container.

A gorgeous wildflower garden... I'm sure it would be even prettier near sunset!

The trunk of Ceiba speciosa, or silk floss tree, is just as interesting as its flowers!

Look at how well those variegated plants tie in with the building. Nice.

This was in the idea garden area, and the bold use of coleus, cannas and crinums is giving me ideas already!

This looks like Colocasia gigantea... it's taller than me!

See what I mean? HUGE!

Another idea garden, this one is an "enabling" garden.

This little bit of paradise has my name written all over it.

What an excellent way to replace a front yard! I wish that all of the homeowners associations would agree.

Neoregelia macwilliamsii or Neo. compacta. One of those two.

Ti plants and palms wave farewell.


  1. very pretty, I love that coleus shot!

  2. Personally I like Leu better than Fairchild, especially the tropical stream garden!


  3. I can imagine walking in the botanical garden, the trees and surrounding has the same flair & familiarity to what we have here. Oh.. I thought u've gathered interesting seashells & placed them on a green cloth. I read ur caption twice just to be sure! What a tree! Thanks for sharing!

    Ur wife is pretty!

  4. Great photos of a wonderful looking garden. Love the pics of you and your lovely wife also.


  5. Africanaussie: I think that out of all the warm season annuals, coleus is the most useful. What other plant can boast solid masses of almost any color in the rainbow?

    m. krishna: I actually have to agree with you there. Fairchild was really cool, but so is any garden in the Coral Gables area.

    Rough.Rosa.: I love that silk floss tree's trunk too! I know a huy who grows them outdoors here in North Florida: They get knocked back by frost, but they still come right back!

    Flowerlady: My wife has luckily gotten a bit less camera shy now that we're married. Maybe it makes a big difference to have "wife" in the caption as opposed to "fiance".

  6. What a great tour of Leu Gardens. I can only imagine if you had been able to be there longer! I have never seen it in person, so it is going on "the list."

  7. Hey, so cool to see all the pics. I'm backtracking through your posts since I'm finally out of school. Hooray!
    I grow a lot of the same plants as Leu, but they must have some secret to get them through the winter. Are some in pots?
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  8. Wow, the plants are all so healthy looking in that garden, and yes some are really huge. And the two of you look very contented and happy touring the garden, it is your honeymoon! congratulations. God bless.

  9. The only thing putting those incredible plants in the shadow is your gorgeous missus with the most infectuous smile I've seen in a long time. And you look so... I don't know, adventurous? Indy Jones- like? under them ginormous leaves :)
    That silk floss tree seems to be growing snails, it might want to see a specialist. Nature never ceases to (as people in Yorkshire say) gobsmack me!

  10. Thank you for the Virtual tour of Leu Gardens and Yes, your wife is pretty <|;-)


Please feel free to share your questions, ideas and suggestions!