Weekend adventure: At Leu Gardens without a map

Leu Gardens is one of Central Florida’s cultural centers. At this 50-acre enclave near downtown Orlando, we found America’s largest Camellia collection outside California, a museum, and several impressive botanical gardens, including a butterfly garden.

Although the stated mission of Leu Gardens is to inspire people to appreciate and understand plants, we discovered that the facility offered a lot more, including art exhibits, special events and and an 1880s home that has been restored.

We’ve lived in Orlando almost seven years, and have always wanted to visit this place. As it turns out, the time to go is just before the holidays, when the Camellias are in bloom and the holiday decorations are up.

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I liked the old oak trees draped in Spanish Moss (above). You don’t see a lot of these aging trees in the suburbs, unfortunately. I shot this on a Canon 1d Mark IV and ran it through the Toy Camera filter in Aperture to bring out some of the greens and add definition.

Aren is perpetually confused, but Leu was an opportunity for him to really lose his bearings. It didn’t help that he had been here for a second-grade field trip, and he confidently declared that he knew his way around.

“Then lead the way,” Kari said. And lead us he did — all over the property.

Come to Leu Gardens in November or December, if you’re in town.