Meet the Gardeners

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. Our team of gardeners work hard to restore and maintain the Gardens, continuing the vision of Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain who recently retired after 28 years. We are very lucky to also have 50 regular volunteers, whose help in keeping the Gardens looking as wonderful as they do is invaluable.

Image ©: Jonathan Buckley

Tom Brown, Head Gardener

Having been Head Gardener at West Dean since 2019, in what could be described as rather interesting circumstances, Tom is proud to head up our team of talented gardeners and volunteers.  As the garden develops, Tom is keen to acknowledge the tremendous legacy left by Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain but to also drive forward a creative and experimental garden with some dynamic planting to inspire students and visitors alike.

Image: © Jonathan Buckley

Image: © Jonathan Buckley.

Anne Kelly

Our Queen of the Walled Garden.  Anne looks after our Kitchen Garden, Cut Flowers, Borders and Orchard – pretty much everything that grows outside, within the walls. You may also find her tending areas around the Visitor Centre and in Gardener’s Cottage.

Image: © Jonathan Buckley


West Dean Gardens' Kelly Dyer

Kelly Dyer

If it grows under glass then Kelly is responsible for growing it. Kelly manages West Dean’s vast plant collections and ensures that the plants thrive and the pests don’t. From our nectarines and vines to our orchids and begonias, Kelly has to be a master of all plants and can be found whizzing around between the Greenhouses and Courtyards.

Gardener Will at West Dean Gardens

Will Hamblin

Known as Mr Landscape, Will has the huge remit of looking after West Dean’s lawned areas, hedges, meadows and trees (including the Arboretum). As well as keeping on top of the ever growing grass, he also keeps our fleet of tractors on the road and manages our compost. Will is one of those people who everyone goes to for the answer.

Chantal Sparrow

Chantal has the mammoth task of maintaining all the areas around the College, including the Pergola. Managing shrubs, perennials, exotics and topiary, Chantal is never short of a job and works alongside our team of energetic and friendly volunteers. 

Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain's retirement

Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain were the inspirational leaders of the garden team for over 25 years, until they retired in April 2019. They brought zeal, imagination, deep horticultural knowledge and an ever-growing understanding and enthusiasm for the gardens and its history. Read the full blog.

We wish Jim and Sarah a heartfelt fond farewell from all of us at West Dean, and best wishes for their retirement.

'At West Dean' published 2018

At West Dean by Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, is the first book to comprehensively document this extensive and unique project; a celebration of the gardening excellence and love affair with planting that Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have established at West Dean over a 25-year period.

While West Dean's expansive site is the starting point, At West Dean highlights the persistence, skill and creativity that make for a successful garden in any set of circumstances, providing inspiration and sound advice for all gardeners and setting a sublime standard to aspire to; it is a joyful reminder of the infinite rewards to be gained from a hard day's work in the garden.

Richly illustrated by award-winning garden photographer Andrea Jones, the glories of West Dean through the seasons are shown to their full extent, mingled with shots of gardeners at work pruning, tying, mowing, raking, labelling, washing pots, stacking canes.

The results of their labours are defined by horticultural rigour and contemporary efficiencies set against a Victorian backdrop.

"I am in awe of what Sarah Wain & Jim Buckland have achieved at West Dean and this superb book is a testament to inspired, uncompromising horticulture at its very best." Monty Don

At West Dean is available to purchase in hardback from the West Dean Gardens Gift Shop.

West Dean Garden's Awards

In November 2019, Head Gardener Tom Brown won the Alan Titchmarsh New Talent Award at the Garden Media Guild Awards. Read more.

In 2016 former Head Gardeners Sarah and Jim won the Horticulture Week Custodian of the Year Award for their 25 years of glorious gardening at West Dean.
Read more.

In 2014 the restored Sunken Garden at West Dean Gardens was awarded the Sussex Heritage Trust Award in the Landscape and Gardens category.

Support West Dean Gardens

West Dean Gardens is part of a registered charity and its upkeep and care are only possible with the support of generous donors, friends and legacy gifts.

If you share our passion for the gardens and gardening excellence,
please find out how you can help support their upkeep.