When some people go on vacation they bring back trinkets and tchotchkes. Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Leu were in the habit of bringing back exotic plants, which eventually led to the establishment of Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens.
After Leu bought his Florida home and its adjoining 40 acres, he and his wife began planting their various exotic flora across the grounds—right up until the couple passed away. After their deaths, the house and gardens were donated to the City of Orlando and the lush gardens are now a beautiful and fascinating destination for budding horticulturalists.
The vast collections of tropical and sub-tropical plants cover a wide range of species that thrive in Florida’s humid climate. Among the many collections are groupings of bromeliads, magnolias, ferns, roses, palms and lilies. The most celebrated and impressive collection is of camellias, a favorite of the Leus. This collection contains over 2,000 plants across over 200 cultivars making the camellia collection one of the largest in the entire country. Another highlight is the massive floral clock, which is frequently replanted in different blooms and patterns.
The grounds of the Harry P. Leu Gardens are laced with meandering paths that wind through the various collections allowing visitors to take a tour through a garden that is not only geographically huge but also unique in its breadth.