Press Release: West Dean Gardens offers inspiration through online talks and activities this Spring
- Charles Dowding to do first ‘virtual’ talk in February -
From a new bug hotel in the Walled Garden to a new online garden course, West Dean Gardens and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are offering inspiration to get gardening this Spring.
The award-winning gardens, near Chichester in West Sussex, has just unveiled an enormous Bug Hotel, measuring 4.5 cubic meters (1.6 x1.6 x1.8metres). The Gardens team have been hard at work creating it with items that have been recycled from elsewhere in the Gardens, such as large logs and old pallets, which form the core, and chicken wire to ensure it all stays in place. It’s made from logs, bamboo, conifer cones, bricks and rubble, metal pipes and bird nesting boxes with herbs planted on the top. There are also cavities at the base for hedgehogs to enjoy.
As Head Gardener, Tom Brown explains: “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.”
He continues: “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! During Lockdown, we encourage people to try to make their own version of our Bug House, it’s a great way to get out into the garden and see what creatures might visit!”
For those keen to learn to grow their own vegetables, Spring is the perfect time to start. A new Live online course with Charles Dowding Easier ways to growing a vegetable and fruit garden on Saturday, February 20, 2021 between 2pm-5.30pm, will reveal Charles’ time saving, no-dig style of gardening. Costing £50 and suitable for all, Charles will discuss how to make compost, clear weeds and sowing at the best time. He will also share details and tips about propagation, growing salad leaves all year round and succession planting, to achieve bigger and better fruit and vegetable harvests The session will be delivered by Zoom and comprises two lectures, a break and two Q&A sessions hosted by garden designer, lecturer and writer Annie Guilfoyle. Charles Dowding has practiced no dig for nearly 40 years, largely by instinct at first, but then noticing there were very few weeds, and harvests were high quality for less time needed.
In addition to the this online course, the West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has also released other live and self-paced online short courses that are suitable for all abilities, in a variety of subjects including painting, drawing and tapestry weaving - including some with optional craft boxes. See all online short courses here.
The gardens are also looking towards the Spring. Tom Brown commented: “Our wonderful glasshouses had to be closed but we are hoping to open these in the near future, with social distancing and hand sanitising measures in place as we have been growing tulips species, hyacinths and many other spring flowering bulbs which will look glorious very soon.”
TICKET PRICES: West Dean Gardens are currently open for local visitors to access walks from 10.30am to 4pm each day (pre-booking essential), Entry is £7* and Free Entry for Children under 16. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time. PLEASE NOTE: from March to October, the gardens are open 10.30am to 5pm and entry costs £10.
FAQs: Toilet facilities will be available and a stringent cleaning regime is in place. More details and guidelines on ensuring a safe visit can be found on https://www.westdean.org.uk/gardens/opening-hours-and-admissions#FAQs