A new 25 Years of Glorious Gardening photographic exhibition at West Dean opens today in the renovated 'Mushroom Shed'. The exhibiton features photographs from the archives going back to the early 1990s.
Like all great gardens there have been many changes over the last few centuries from its peak in the opulent Edwardian era, through a long decline during most of the twentieth century and culminating in the devastation of the Great Storm of 1987.This year marks 25 years since head gardeners, husband and wife, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, began the transformation into award-winning gardens. In the years since 1991, they have revitalised the 19th century landscape and overseen tremendous changes which have brought the gardens international respect for both the quality and variety of horticultural practice.
"One of the key principles was that we would broadly work within the existing historic framework and build on its different character areas," says Jim. "However we also reserved the right to introduce our own contemporary contributions as every generation of gardeners had done before us".
West Dean is one of the most significant restored gardens open to the public today and listed Grade II* on the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The must-see features include the 13 Victorian glasshouses still in full working order, 300-foot Edwardian pergola designed by landscape architect and garden designer, Harold Peto; an award-winning Sunken Garden; a fruit collection of 100 varieties of apples and 45 of pears, including many heritage varieties; a Spring, Wild and Woodland Garden parts of which remain from the Regency period; parkland and St. Roche's Arboretum, with its fine collection of trees, offering breathtaking views of the South Downs, gardens and West Dean College on a two-mile circular walk.
25 Years of Glorious Gardening exhibiton runs until end October 2016. Free entry with a ticket to the gardens (adult standard entry £8.50, children go FREE).