Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is Bursting with Blooms!
September is kind of a weird month. The lazy days and fun of summer are officially over with the kids back in school, yet we haven’t escaped the heat with fall temperatures just yet. It is Florida, after all, so that might be awhile.
Weekend Road Trip
Just because the kids are back into the swing of things at school, and we adults are on our something-thousandth day of work, doesn’t mean we can’t all use a fun afternoon or weekend adventure!
Harry P. Leu Gardens in the heart of nearby Orlando has more than 50 acres of impeccably manicured gardens to explore. This month, though, there are some special guests in the gardens. It will take a little work to find them, but your efforts will lead you on a magical scavenger hunt throughout the grounds.
A Fun Day Exploring Outside
Now through September 23, Leu Gardens is home to 15 fairies that have taken up residence in the trees and landscaping. According to the gardens, the fairies are too tiny to catch a glimpse of but they know they’re around because intricate, hand-crafted fairy doors have popped up all over the place.
Luckily, they have provided a map and clues on the locations of each fairy home and you can spend the day visiting them.
The Enchanted Fairy Door exhibit is a fun way for the whole family to explore the gardens, and I know because we brought along three generations to do so! My husband, Scott, and I brought our 6-month-old daughter, Avery, as well as my parents to see what the fairy fuss was all about.
What started as a leisurely stroll along the blossoming pathways quickly dissolved into a racing family competition to find the next fairy door. Obviously, Avery wasn’t quite sure what all the commotion was about, but she giggled with glee from her stroller as we raced to beat each other to the next fairy home.
We initially decided to bring her to wander the gardens because of her immense love of nature. One of her favorite daily activities is to take a “tour” of the back and front yards to visit the plants and flowers. She gently touches the leaves and petals and studies them closely, squealing when we come across a freshly bloomed, colorful flower. It was no different as we came across an endless variety of colors and textures in the gardens.
Leu Gardens carefully plans their landscaping for the seasons, ensuring there will be plenty to see no matter what time of the year you choose to visit. You can find a list of what’s in bloom on their website each month. The peak blooms for summer are tropical plants with fall giving way to floss silk, camellias taking over in the winter and a dazzling show of roses and azaleas in the spring.
Each of the 15 fairy doors are located in different areas of the gardens, taking you on a 1.5- to 2-hour tour of the grounds. You are given a map of their general locations but it’s up to you to decipher the clues in the descriptions of each fairy to nail down their exact locations.
Some can be spotted from afar and some are tucked away so you can’t see them until you are right on top of them. On your hunt, you’ll come across the sprawling rose garden, a serene butterfly garden and even an enormous floral clock on the hillside.
A nature overlook on Lake Rowena offers the chance to catch a glimpse of river otters and alligators if the time is right, but I can guarantee plenty of fish and turtles will come to pay a visit.
Unfortunately, the Leu House Museum, the original home of Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane, is currently closed due to extensive damage from Hurricane Irma but you can view the outside of the home from surrounding gardens. Classes and events, including movie nights in the garden, are held throughout the year.
With so much to see, it’s the perfect time of year to take a stroll through the gardens, no matter if you’re a kid, or just a kid at heart.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
1920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando 32803
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$10 per adult, $5 per child 4-17, kids 3 and under free