Exbury Gardens is a famous garden in Hampshire, England, which belongs to a branch of the Rothschild family. It is situated in the village of Exbury, just to the east of Beaulieu across the river from Bucklers Hard. It is well signposted from Beaulieu and from the A326 Southampton to Fawley road in the New Forest.
Exbury is a 200-acre (81 ha) informal woodland garden with very large collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and is often considered the finest garden of its type in the United Kingdom. Exbury holds the national collection of Nyssa (Tupelo) and Oxydendrum under the NCCPG National Plant Collection scheme run by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.
Other features include the Hydrangea Walk, the Rock Garden, Iris Garden, the Sundial Garden which follows an exotic planting, and a Camellia Walk (which takes visitors to a path alongside Beaulieu river and back via the pond).
Lionel Nathan de Rothschild purchased the Exbury estate in 1919 and soon set to creating a garden on an ambitious scale. The infrastructure included a water tower, three large concrete lined ponds, and 22 miles (35 km) of underground piping. Exbury is now open to the public for most of the year, with high seasons in the spring for the flowering shrubs and the autumn for the autumn colour. The Rothschild's house at Exbury is a neoclassical mansion which was built around an earlier structure in the 1920s. It is not open to the public.
The gardens are run by a registered charity, Exbury Gardens Limited, whose objects are "to maintain, improve, develop and preserve Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, including opening them to the public, and to advance horticultural science, knowledge and learning for the public's benefit." In 2009, over 110,000 people visited the gardens.
In the summer, the gardens are served by the New Forest Tour open-top bus service.
In the north east corner of the gardens there is also the 12 1⁄4 in (311 mm) gauge Exbury Steam Railway that goes on a journey across the pond in Summer Lane Garden, along the top of the rock gardens and into the American Garden. The railway was built in 2000–2001 as an additional attraction in the gardens. Two narrow gauge style 0-6-2 tender tank locos were built specially for the line by the Exmoor Steam Railway. The railway is a member of Britain's Great Little Railways.
The railway however has proved to be more popular than anyone had anticipated, with trains often needing to be double headed. To solve this problem, a much larger 2-6-2 tender loco called Marriloo was built at Exmoor, and entered service on the line in 2008. It is notable for having carried the Queen on a footplate trip round the railway. The railway stages very popular Ghost Trains during the October half-term and Santa Steam Specials in the run-up to Christmas.
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