Looking good in autumn 2023

The autumn signifies a period of big changes in the garden where our summer displays are coming to an end as we prepare for the winter ahead. In gardening, we are eternally optimistic and are often looking forward to the next growing season, planning six months in advance. In the greenhouses, we're saying goodbye to our chillies, begonias and fuchsias, but we’re looking forward to a display of miniature daffodils and anemones for the spring of 2024.

There will be plenty to see in the Walled Garden with big displays of foxgloves, wallflowers, poppies and tulips, all being planted, to flower next year. Although there has been a much smaller apple harvest this year compared to last, we have managed to produce 1200 bottles of West Dean apple juice, as well as pick hundreds for sale to our visitors, many thanks to David, one of our volunteers who has tirelessly been walking the orchard to hand pick all of the fruit for sale.

One of the highlights that I hope to share with you this winter will be the colourful stems of our willow and dogwood collection, which despite a slow start due to the deer damage, has relished the summer rainfall and should give us a spectacular display this coming winter.

Many regular visitors will notice that the Sunken Garden has suffered following a hard winter and last year's drought, as well as box blight affecting the hedge. As a result, we will be replanting the area in a different planting style, which aims to be experimental, but it is clear that through extreme weather we need to find a way to deliver exciting planting schemes that are more resilient to the challenges that we all face.

Tom Brown, Head Gardener