Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Beautiful Gardens of Leura

Photographing the Beautiful Gardens of Leura

Urn in the Garden
Every year in Spring the beautiful gardens of Leura are open to the public to visit as part of the Leura Gardens Festival. Leura is one of the lovely villages in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia so when we're talking Spring we're talking October. Since Leura is at an altitude of almost 1000 metres or around 3,200 feet it enjoys cooler temperatures than nearby Sydney. It also means that the lovely plants and flowers that thrive in climates where seasons are defined do particularly well there.
A single pass lasts for the duration of the festival which runs for nine days. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit our local hospital and its supporting services. During this time you can visit any of the 11 beautiful private gardens which have been opened to the public for the event. The photos which follow were taken during the 2012 festival.

In 2014 the festival runs from October 4 - 12

Where is Leura?

Leura is a cool climate village located in The Blue Mountains west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Situated at an elevation of 985 metres (3,232 ft), Leura experiences definite seasons, something that much of Sydney and places north often don't. Danish architect, Paul Sorenson, recognised the potential for creating stately gardens in this favourable climate following his first successful commission at the Carrington Hotel in neighbouring Katoomba in around 1918. Sorenson fell in love with Leura while several of its wealthier citizens fell in love with his landscaping style. In 1933, Belgian Henri van de Velde retained Paul Sorenson to make his visualations for his estate reality on his Everglades property. Everglades is now owned by the National Trust and is central to the Leura Gardens Festival program.

The First Three Gardens

Davaar, Rustlings and Brabourne

Buddha in the Garden
The first three gardens we visited were within a very short walk of each other. At the first garden, called Davaar, we bought our tickets which were valid for the duration of festival. Each garden is ticked off as you enter it. This means we don't have to attempt to visit all the gardens in the one day and can stop and smell the roses so to speak.

Davaar is a lovely collection of alcoves and corners with different levels and little paths between beds of spring bulbs. Sectioned into spaces for different purposes, there is a thriving vegetable garden, ornamental fruit trees and large century old deciduous trees and conifers. We pause to admire fat tulips, daffodils, jonquils and ranunculas.

Next we walked around the corner and across the road to Rustlings where there is a definite oriental feel to the landscaping including small bridges over tiny streams and even what looks like a Japanese bath-house in the far corner. Japanese maples, which must be a riot of colour in autumn, abound; meandering paths lead past hidden buddha statues and rustic garden furniture. Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons feature heavily, as do tree ferns and birds nest ferns bringing a lush rainforest feel to this lovely sanctuary.

Our next visit is to Brabourne, a total contrast to the previous two properties. This garden is more formal with terraces and mass plantings in colour groups. The focal point of this garden is a massive pinoak tree which branches out to all corners of the expansive grassed sloping rear garden. On our exit we popped in to the stall being held by volunteers and bought some home-made lemon butter.

Beautiful Gardens of Leura: Highlights of our Visit


A Photographic Excursion

Enjoying the Beautiful Gardens of Leura with my Daughters

I went to the Leura Gardens Festival with my two teenage daughters who are both just starting to really get interested in taking photos. They love to get up close and take macro shots whereas I look for textures, light and dark, and shape. Here are some of my favourites from the day enhanced and made available for sale on Zazzle products.

Returning to the Festival

We hadn't planned to return the following day. We'd had a fantastic day and were pretty well satisfied but on the spur of the moment we decided to go back and explore the gardens we'd missed yesterday. We were so glad we did!

We only visited three gardens the second day but these were arguabley the most spectacular of them all. Situated behind modest street frontages, the common denominator was the expansive views overlooking the famed Blue Mountans escarpment.

All images are the property of the writer.

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