Looking Good in August

Have you seen the exhibition yet about the development of West Dean Gardens over the past 25 years? It's fairly newish and visitors are enjoying the 'before and after' pictures. It's located in the Old Mushroom Shed in the Kitchen Garden and having been here 25 years, it's sometimes hard for me to recall what certain areas looked like originally so the photos certainly help. Make sure you have a look when you visit us next time.

Is there a more exhausting job than hauling long one-inch diameter hoses full of water around a garden and remembering to turn them off and on? Probably, but at the time it doesn't seem that way. After all the rain in June, July has been incredibly dry at West Dean, great for flowers but not so great for vegetables. Vegetables respond to a steady water supply, particularly brassicas, leafy greens celery and celeriac; ignore them and they simply stand still. The cutting garden, however, is looking glorious as there's nothing like sunshine to open blooms.

It's been a spectacular year for roses, the Wichurana ramblers on the pergola and behind the borders in the walled gardening have been putting on a good show. Generally these are a reliable group and Anne, the border queen, trains them beautifully into position. Water in June, sunshine in July, seems to be the right recipe for enhancing the display of blooms.

The new planting in the rose border is progressing well with some editing required for the annuals which have capitalised on the new substrate - our own compost. As usual they tend to reach for the sky like rockets and require editing to keep them away from the slower growing new roses. In the autumn additional planting will fill in the gaps and hopefully there will be better balanced growth all round next year. All the borders are flowering their socks off at the moment so do come and see them but bring sunglasses for the hot border in the kitchen garden!

Elsewhere, the annual BIG MOW in the arboretum has come to a close for another year. This is a large site and it takes weeks of work for the long grass to be cut with a follow up using strimmers and pedestrian mowers. It's worth it as the arb, as we call it, is slowly turning into a place of flowery joy making it an even more worthwhile destination when you come to visit the gardens next.

Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor

25 Years of Glorious Gardening

25 Years of Glorious Gardening - a photographic exhibition - tells the story of a lifetime's work by head gardeners, husband and wife team, Sarah Wain and Jim Buckland in transforming the 19th landscape into award-winnng West Dean Gardens. The Old Mushroom Shed, runs until end October 2016. Free with a Standard gardens entry ticket.

21st Chilli Fiesta

I'm writing this in the lead up week to the Chilli Fiesta 2016 and we're ramping up the attention to detail to make sure you have a splendid time in the garden as well as in the fiesta when you visit. Even the mixed begonia display under glass is catching people's attention, its sympathetic fiesta colours of orange, red and yellow are a blast, so don't miss it. When you visit, have a good look at all the chillies we have on show in the chilli house too.

BBC Radio 4 Gardener's Question Time comes to West Dean Gardens

This is your chance to put your questions on chillies - or another gardening conundrum! The BBC Radio Four Gardener's Question Time panel will be at Chilli Fiesta on Friday 5 August at West Dean Gardens.

Tickets are on a first come, first served basis and aailable from the Chilli Hub at the event 4pm to 5pm. Doors open for the recording before a studio audience at 5.30pm, ends 7.45pm.

The panel will be Bunny Guinness, Bob Flowerdew, Matthew Wilson and Peter Gibbs.