We visited Harry P. Leu Gardens during their Dazzling Nights display, although we went during the daytime. I love to walk these grounds that remind me of a rainforest. The shady paths wind past trickling brooks and pass by a nearby lake.
The azaleas looked as though they wanted to pop out soon, but the camellias were in full bloom in all different colors. Seeing them made this visit worthwhile alone.
I was surprised at the variety of colors among the poinsettias on display.
We came upon some other interesting plants too, such as these specimens.
This one looked like it had a tongue coming out. It could easily double for a carnivorous alien plant.
Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of my favorite spots for a nature walk in the Orlando area. Located at 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando, FL, this botanical oasis offers a delightful stroll through its fifty acres as well as a historical home. It’s the site for many weddings and was the model for Orchid Isle in my mystery novel, Shear Murder.
My favorite section is the Tropical Stream Garden with shady paths and tropical plants like in a rainforest. The sounds of a trickling brook follow you as you continue along toward Lake Rowena for scenic water views. Across the way in the photo below and on the left is the Orlando Science Center, a trip for another day.
As we continued along, we admired the flowering azaleas, camellias and other colorful blooms. The temperature was comfortable in the low seventies with sunny skies. We peered at the rose garden with a fountain at its center and bypassed the vegetable, herb and butterfly gardens that we’d seen on previous visits.
The Dinosaur Invasion exhibit was in force as were many children squealing with joy over the life-sized displays. The creatures are scattered around the park and look natural in their habitats.
The only thing missing from this park is a café. They have a gift shop with interesting garden-themed items but nowhere to buy a cool drink and a snack or to sit outside and view the gardens while eating lunch.
For more photos, visit my earlier post on Harry P. Leu Gardens.
Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of my favorite haunts in Orlando. I modeled a location after it in my tenth Bad Hair Day mystery (yet to come), so I count a visit as part of my research.
There’s so much more to do in Greater Orlando than the theme parks. When you have a day to spare, consider spending it at Winter Park. Stroll Leu Gardens in the morning then drive over to Park Avenue and park on one of the side streets. Have lunch in one of the many cafes lining the popular thoroughfare. Shop in the boutiques. Visit a museum, or take an escorted boat ride on the lake. I like this little city so much that I centered my proposed new mystery series there.
Enjoy these photos from Leu Gardens and plan a visit next time you’re in Orlando. Founded by the Mizells in 1858, the park hosts a family cemetery among its attractions. The park covers fifty acres with over forty plant collections and is a favorite site for weddings. Besides a butterfly garden, vegetable garden, herb garden, and citrus grove, there are sections with flowering camellias, cycads, bamboo, camphor trees, and more. An indoor gift shop and catering hall are in the main building but there’s a bride’s cottage on the grounds for outdoor weddings.