What's new at West Dean Gardens

What's new?

To visit the Gardens you no longer need to pre-book tickets. Please read our FAQs for more information.

Bringing the Gardens to you, via social media

Our social media is full of updates and developments around the Gardens as we move through the seasons. Please feel free to share your pictures, tagging @westdeangardens. See more on:

Head Gardner, Tom, speaking to Gardeners'.World film crew

Gardeners' World visit West Dean Gardens

Last year, West Dean Gardens enjoyed a visit from the Gardeners' World film crew. Filming on a glorious spring day, Head Gardner, Tom, spoke about our dazzling Ranunculus display in the Walled Garden and Victorian Glasshouse. The programme aired on BBC TWO Friday, 2 December at 8pm and is available on catch-up at BBC iPlayer.

The West Dean Gardens chickens

Introducing the newest members of the West Dean Gardens team!

Many orchard pests at some point in their life cycles go through a maggot stage which fall to the ground around the base of the tree. Organic orchards are recruiting chickens to eat these pests as they fall onto the grass to reduce the amount of fruit damage in an environmentally friendly way.

At West Dean Gardens, we have brought in two Lavender Pekin Bantams to help control these pests in the orchard.

Having hatched in late March, the chickens are being kept predominantly in the Old Garden Office for now to help them feel secure and identify the room as their home. They are slowly being introduced to the orchard, and will eventually roam there during the day, and head back to the Old Garden Office at night.

Image: ©  Lottie Francis

Garden Dens

The Gardens team have been working on creating a new area for the whole family to enjoy once restrictions ease. 

Willow stems collected from the Gardens have been weaved to make tunnels and shelters, and we anticipate that the willow will take root and grow, meaning that we will weave in the stems over the years to strengthen and reinforce these structures. Soft bark chipping collated from the Estate has been used for the floor. A ‘dead hedge’ made of willow surrounds the space to separate the rest of the border from the play space, which in time will provide a habitat for wildlife.

The idea of the area was born from the desire to engage and inspire our next generation of gardeners and artists. We hope the dens and tunnels will give visitors of all ages somewhere to let their imagination run free. 

Image: © Trevor Sims

10 Tips for growing house plants West Dean Gardens

10 top tips for growing house plants

During lockdown, many of us have had more time to appreciate our homes and as such, we have seen houseplants becoming more and more popular as a way of bringing the outside in.

In a new blog post, Glasshouse Gardener Kelly gives her tips for looking after our house plants.

Read the blog post here.

New Stag Beetle Habitat

The Gardens team have been hard at work creating a new stag beetle habitat in the Spring Garden recently.⠀

The endangered stag beetle faces many problems including a lack of rotting wood in which to lay their eggs and for their larvae to feed on. The tendency to keep parks and gardens 'tidy' - including removing roots and old tree stumps - is problematic, resulting in the loss of precious habitats.⠀

The new stag beetle habitat provides a welcome home for stag beetles throughout their life cycle; featuring the stumps of dead trees, logs and chipping gathered from around the West Dean Estate. ⠀

We hope this will inspire you to create your own habitat for stag beetles in your gardens or green spaces!⠀

Building a bug hotel at West Dean Gardens

The Bug Hotel

Another project the Gardens team have been working on is this Bug Hotel, made from logs, bamboo, conifer cones, bricks and rubble, metal pipes and bird nesting boxes with herbs planted on the top. The vast majority of which has been recycled from elsewhere in the Gardens. There are also cavities at the base for hedgehogs to enjoy. ⠀

The hope is to encourage pollinators and predators who will help control a range of orchard pests, like aphids, who will then be controlled with a healthy blue tit population in an environmentally sustainable way. ⠀

Large logs and old pallets form the core, and chicken wire has been used to ensure it all stays in place.⠀

Our resident robin has shown lots of interest already and we're looking forward to seeing more mini beasts taking up residence in the Bug Hotel over the coming months and years!⠀

Image: © Chantal Rich, Ornamental Gardener

Growing your own

Thinking of growing your own and wondering where to start? If the answer is 'yes', West Dean's Head Gardener, Tom Brown, is here to inspire and help you. Be sure to follow along on our social media channels (@westdeangardens) and with #westdeantogether.

How to grow salad leaves

West Dean Gardens Head Gardener, Tom Brown demonstrates how to sow and grow salad leaves from seed, as well as how to harvest leaves for continuous growing.


How to grow potatoes

In this video, Head Gardener Tom Brown demonstrates how to grow potatoes both in the ground and in a container. He also shares a clever and efficient way to back fill your holes when plating in the soil, as well as types of potatoes and when to harvest.

How to grow French beans

In this video, Tom reveals how to grow French beans, both starting them in a pot indoors and sowing directly into your garden. He also demonstrates planting climbing French beans and what to use as a frame, and gives a few tips on growing butternut squash.

How to grow pea shoots

To celebrate National Children’s Gardening Week (23-31 May 2020), Head Gardener Tom Brown is joined by his son, Oli, and the pair explain how to sow and grow pea shoots in an old gutter. If you’re keen to get your children involved in gardening, check out this informative and entertaining video together, and be inspired.

Top Tips for Dahlias

West Dean Gardens' Head Gardener, Tom Brown, shares his top tips to make sure you enjoy the dahlias in your garden all summer long - and even into the autumn. Watch for techniques to get bigger flowers and learn about live heading to give you cut flowers and more flowers for longer.

Gardeners World filming at West Dean Gardens

Gardeners' World at West Dean

If you missed West Dean Gardens on Gardener's World in Spring 2020 then you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer here (episode 5). This series the programmes featured head gardeners from around the country, including our very own Head Gardener Tom. 

Tom spent the day showing the crew the Walled Garden, the stunning Nectarine Glasshouse, the Pergola and the Spring Gardens. He said: “I was so pleased to welcome BBC’s Gardeners’ World to West Dean Gardens on a glorious day, and I am thrilled to have been chosen for this new series of pieces focussing on Head Gardeners. The piece featuring West Dean Gardens will be the first to be shown and I am very pleased to join a prestigious line up, which also features Head Gardeners and the gardens they work at, including Sissinghurst and Ilford Manor, as well as several others.”