Leonardslee Gardens is sold to mystery buyer for £5m

Leonardslee Gardens near Horsham in West Sussex has been bought by an anonymous buyer for £5m and will close to the public for the foreseeable future on 30 June after reopening for 2010 on 1 April.

The site, famed for its 90ha of historic Rhododendron, Camellia, Magnolia and Azalea gardens, woodland, lakes and 40 wallabies attracts 50,000 visitors a year and has been open to the public for a century. It is famed for Rhododendron 'Loderi'.

Tom Loder, a family member of the current owner, told HW: "We hope the buyer will re-employ all the gardeners. We suspect a good proportion will carry on, if not all. Leonardslee has four full-time gardeners and one gardener/animal handler.

Robin Loder, the great grandson of the Sir Edmund Loder who built the original garden, said: "It is a huge responsibility to look after a garden of this size. Holidays are something we've never had. One needs to do other things in life."

He added that the new owner had fallen in love with the garden. "I am very hopeful that the garden will continue to thrive. It may not be open to the public, but it has a hold on people," said Loder. "The new owner may find that he feels the need to share it."

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