The Fern Glasshouse at West Dean Gardens

A look back at 2019

As the end of the year approaches, we look back at some highlights and achievements at West Dean Gardens in 2019.

We welcomed new talent to the Gardens team

Tom Brown became our new Head Gardener following Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain’s retirement in April. Tom joined us from nearby Parham House, where he had lead their gardens’ team since 2010. Tom has lectured for the College’s gardening short courses for several years, and has already taken great strides in bringing his artistic and horticultural collaborative vision of the gardens to fruition.

Tom wins new talent award

Swapping wellies and overalls for a suit and tie, Head Gardener Tom Brown was awarded the Alan Titchmarsh New Talent Award at the Garden Media Guild Awards in November. The judges recognised his “quiet passion and wide-ranging horticultural skills” as “an experienced, passionate plantsman and gardener”. A fantastic accomplishment!

Two new trainee horticulturalists

Two new Trainee Horticulturalists, Laura and Chantel joined the gardens team in September. Laura has been supported by the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Horticulturalist Fund, and Chantal by funding from Perennial - Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society. Both will be with us for two years whilst studying on an RHS course one day a week.

Glasshouse progress

Over the past 12 months, in excess of £100,000 has been raised for the Glasshouse appeal. This has been a huge success due to our supporter’s love of the heritage behind these beautiful buildings, and their enthusiasm for what our amazing Gardens team grow inside them.

The Fern Glasshouse and Glasshouse 16 have now been fully restored, and the largest Glasshouse - the Peach and Tomato house - is in the final stages of completion. We look forward to seeing the new planting going in there in the New Year.

A heartfelt thanks to all of our generous supporters.

Gardener’s Cottage tearoom

What was formerly Jim and Sarah Buckland’s cottage has been transformed into a seasonal tearoom for West Dean Gardens’ visitors to enjoy. Offering freshly made teas, coffees and homemade snacks, the home-turned-tearoom has become a hit in its  beautiful setting. It re-opens in late March 2020.

Head Gardener Tom reflects on 2019, and looks ahead to the New Year…

“What an eventful year it’s been! This autumn, West Dean Gardens welcomed two young and enthusiastic horticulturalists in Laura Mellor and Chantal Rich who join an established and very experienced team to glean knowledge and an understanding of how to work in a garden to the highest standards.

We sadly said goodbye to another large cedar tree but look forward to planting over one hundred trees across the gardens, immediate parkland and arboretum in early 2020. Two big displays to look out for are two thousand hyacinths in our glasshouses, and our 65 species and cultivars of foxgloves from around the world, flowering next May around the College, coupled with the return of the ever-popular spring vegetable display in pots. Four freshly restored glasshouses are ready for planting and 2020 brings a new-look cut flower and kitchen garden, lots of new cut flowers, vegetables and soft fruit to enhance the Walled Garden.

The Garden Team and I look forward to an exciting 2020 with you.”

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