Press Release: BBC Radio Four Gardeners’ Question Time comes to award-winning Chilli Fiesta

Gardening fans and festival-goers are in for a very special treat this year as BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time is set to record at West Dean Gardens' award-winning Chilli Fiesta. Eric Robson and his panel of horticultural experts will answer chilli-related questions from the studio audience in an hour long recording to be held in the Auditorium at the gardens on Friday 5 August. Chilli Fiesta (5, 6 & 7 August) is now in its 21st year and attracts 25,000 visitors. Studio audience places are limited and tickets will be available from the Chilli Hub at Chilli Fiesta with registration between 4pm and 5pm on Friday 5 August ONLY on a first-come, first served basis from the Chilli Hub.

The Gardener's Question Time panel at Chilli Fiesta will be Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Christine Walkden and Matt Wilson. The show will be broadcast on BBC Radio Four on Friday 12 August at 15.00 and will be repeated on Sunday 14 August at 14.00.

The Friday recording at Chill Fiesta will kick off an exciting weekend of gardening activities in the Chilli Hub. Mark Diacono, food writer, grower and photographer at Otter Farm, will be appearing on Sunday 7 August. Visitors can pick up growing tips from Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor at West Dean and a chilli growing expert, who will be giving informal talks.

The event offers a full programme of entertainment including celebrity cookery demonstrations, live music and children's activities. Chilli Fiesta is a family-friendly festival offering weekend camping in the stunning South Downs landscape. Visitors can explore the 92-acre Grade II* Listed gardens including the walled Kitchen Garden where Sarah grows around 250 varieties of chillies.

This year marks 25 years since Head Gardeners, husband and wife team, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain - founders of Chilli Fiesta - began transforming the derelict 92-acre site into award-winning gardens, in the wake of the Great Storms of 1987. Inspired by the BBC's Victorian Kitchen Garden (1987) Jim and Sarah's first project was to restore the Kitchen Garden to a semblance of its earlier glory, including a two-year restoration of 13 Victorian glasshouses. Designed by Foster & Pearson between 1895 and 1901, they are the jewel in the crown of the Walled Garden and some of the few working glasshouses in the UK.

Chilli Fiesta Early Bird prices save 20% on the full price (available until 25 July)

Demand for tickets to Chilli Fiesta will be high, so early booking is advised.

Friday Day Ticket: Adult £11.20 (gate £14) Child 0.80p (gate £1.00)

Saturday Day Ticket: Adult £12.80 (gate £16) Child 0.80p (gate £1.00)

Sunday Day Ticket: Adult £11.20 (gate £14) Child 0.80p (gate £1.00)

3-day pass with camping: Adult from £80 (gate £100) Child £28.80 (gate £36)


Notes to editors

  • West Dean Gardens is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust, also comprising West Dean College, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • Head Gardeners at West Dean, husband and wife team, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have been awarded the first ever Horticulture Week Custodian Award for a lifetime's work in revitalising the 19th century landscape.
  • A photographic display illustrating the highlights of 25 Years of Glorious Gardening is now open in the renovated 'mushroom shed' at West Dean Gardens and runs until the end of October. Free entry with a ticket to West Dean Gardens (adult standard entry £8.50, children go FREE, except at events).
  • Glasshouse No. 25 a nectarine and late vinery house is now in need or urgent repair at a cost of £40,000. For more information and to donate to the Save the Glasshouses appeal online visit
  • All accompanying photographs are free to use for editorial purposes.
  • West Dean College and Gardens are situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 818301


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ