Looking good in summer 2024

It seems as if the most important factor when it comes to managing a garden is the weather and I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t top of my list. I recently pondered over several plants, particularly dahlias which seem to be in protest to these cold winds and cooler temperatures. In the middle June, we recorded a nighttime temperature of four degrees Celsius in our Walled Garden. Traditionally, plants will respond to the warmer temperatures and high light levels of June, but this year seems a little different, particularly with those sun lovers such as courgettes, beans and dahlias. My conclusion is to be patient and wait for those warmer, ambient temperatures as plants will respond eventually.  

The gardens at West Dean are showing off some vibrant colours, despite the weather. Delphiniums, our meadows, and roses are having a great year with lots of promise of more colour to come. Chantal, our Senior Gardener has been working hard to reinvigorate the Sunken Garden with a 10cm layer of sand to grow a range of plants that thrive in poor fertility and are more resistant to the extremes of heat and flooding. This project is experimental, but I am hopeful that these plants will provide lots of colour and food for pollinators and offer us as gardeners plant alternatives that don’t need all the water and fertiliser that some plants have become accustomed to in order to thrive. The box hedge around that space has been replaced due to moth and blight damage with a more informal planting of Euonymus, Nandina and Sarcoccoca. The lawned area has been replaced with our first thyme lawn which will be fascinating to see the progress.

George and Anne have been replanting the Blue and Yellow Border with a naturalistic group of perennials which are knitting together well and will continue to make a wonderful addition to the Walled Garden.

Tom Brown, Head Gardener