We've been celebrating 25 Years of Glorious
Gardening this year at West Dean. Head Gardeners, Jim
Buckland and Sarah Wain, began renovating the 19th century
landscape in 1991 in the wake of the Great Storms. A lifetime's
work deserves a year-long celebration and we continued on Friday
last with a Garden Party on the picnic lawn.
It's always a risk planning anything outdoors this time of year
but the weather held as horticulturists, VIP guests, Trustees,
colleagues and volunteers enjoyed the autumn sunshine, champagne
and Pimm's and delicious bites of food, all beautifully prepared
and served by the hospitality team at West Dean.
How it all started...
Inspired by BBC's The Victorian Kitchen
Garden (1987) a 13-part series presented by Peter
Thoday, horticulturist, Jim and Sarah began by restoring the
collection of 13 Victorian glasshouses, some of the few working in
the UK. Peter was very supportive of Gardens Manager Jim's plans
for transforming the derelict gardens at West Dean into the
award-winning location they are today.
Peter says, "The gardens at West Dean are the best place in
Britain to see the skills that underpin the craft of gardening
practced to perfection".
Most of the gardens' restoration work has been carried out
in-house and further work has included: re-building the 300-foot
Edwardian pergola designed by
Harold Peto; redesigning the Sunken Garden, originally a
Victorian parterre; establishing a 145-variety fruit collection in
the walled garden; restoring the Spring and Woodland Garden which
features 1820s flint and stonework bridges virtually lost in
encroaching vegetation; and ongoing work in St. Roche's Arboretum,
Redwoods, planted in 1992 are now over 30 feet high.
Guests enjoyed a mini display of archive photos of the gardens
25 years ago. The full exhibition 25 Years of Glorious
Gardening is currently open in the 'old mushroom shed' at West
Dean. FREE entry with a gardens entry ticket.