Exbury has always been a firm favourite with families visiting the New Forest, but this year there is even more reason to discover the award-winning woodland gardens.
Alongside the exclusive spring season ‘Gilbury Lane’ garden – opening for the first time in 2014 and planted with over 200 named varieties of Camellias – will be a new Children’s Play Area. Equipment, being installed by Hampshire-based Fawns Recreational Services, will include an Explorer Tower, Sky Walk Trail, Bird’s Nest Swing, Play Hut and ‘Pick-Up Sticks’ all perfect for children at Key Stage 1 and 2 (5-11 years). Younger children are not forgotten either with a Horse Sit-In Springer.
Exbury Operations Manager Sally Needham can’t wait for the new season to start on March 15th: “We’re really looking forward to opening. The Play Area is sure to go down well with our audience, and complements the other activities families enjoy at Exbury, including the train rides and Family Trail. It is located close to the visitor entrance and our main facilities, including Mr Eddy’s Tea Rooms, and is readily accessible – perfect to spend some time in either at the start or end of a visit.”
The Gardens, a charitable trust, also stage a number of family friendly events during the open season, including an Easter Tree Trail and the ever-popular Halloween Ghost Train. Gardens President Nicholas de Rothschild commented: “We are always looking to add interest to the Gardens and improve our facilities. Young children are the visitors of tomorrow and we want to create as memorable a day as possible at Exbury. The Gardens were designed by my Grandfather nearly 100 years ago, and he tried to create surprises around every corner, using plantings and the New Forest landscape. Children love exploring, and there are over 20 miles of pathways, three woods and lots of open areas to discover. Parents have often remarked how the train has been the lure for a Garden visit, so the Play Area will sit well in this context too. We operate a Friends of Exbury Pass to the Gardens which is very popular with families as it enables them to appreciate the changing seasons. We’ve retained last year’s price too, so the Pass represents even better value in 2014.”
Head Gardener John Anderson has been overseeing preparation of the Play Area, and has gone to some lengths to retain the woodland feel to its surroundings. “This winter has been very wet and very mild, with occasional gale force storms, so it hasn’t been easy to get everything just right. We’re pleased with how the area looks though, and are on schedule for our March deadline.” John himself has two young children, aged 3 and 5 years. “They can’t wait for the Play Area to open. I know where I’ll be spending many of my weekends from now on!”