Horticulturalist Appeal

Give a Trainee Horticulturalist a great start - a year working in West Dean Gardens. Click here to hear from someone who knows how important this Trainee post can be.

The Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund

Can you help kick-start a gardener's career by making a donation to the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund?

In the year that they retire, we are establishing a fund in honour of the tremendous legacy that Head Gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have left in these gardens; to give someone at the start of their career, the chance they need to work towards managing a garden like West Dean.

Jim and Sarah have spent the last 28 years revitalising the magnificent landscape you see today and making West Dean Gardens one of the greatest restored gardens in the UK. After 28 years, they have decided it's time for a rest - hence their retirement in spring 2019.

Passionate about educating the gardeners of tomorrow, Jim and Sarah have long worked to close the nationwide skills gap and provide opportunities to build a fruitful career in horticulture. With this in mind, and to celebrate their great contribution to West Dean Gardens, we want to establish a Trainee Horticulturalist post in their name.

Donate Now

To help the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund please click on the donate now button below.

Large gardens want people to come with experience, but it's so difficult to gain experience in the first place, its catch twenty two. We want to set up a fund to help a person right at the beginning of their horticultural journey so they can one day manage large gardens like West Dean.

Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor, West Dean Gardens.

When you visit West Dean you tell us how much you admire Jim and Sarah and their transformation of the gardens. This is your opportunity to celebrate their legacy and help shape someone's horticultural career.

Through a complete annual cycle, the trainee will work with the West Dean team, learning about every aspect of the gardens and gaining practical experience that will act as a springboard for their career. They will be eligible to apply to the most prestigious horticultural training programmes in the country, including the RHS Diploma or Kew apprenticeship scheme; without this experience, they may not be considered.

The cost to deliver the Trainee Horticulturalist post next year is £17,400 which covers their salary, membership of the Professional Gardeners' Guild and vital health and safety training courses. Our ambition is, with your help, to secure enough money to fund the first three years of this programme, a total of £54,900 (including inflation). Your gift over the next three years will make a huge impact for someone entering the horticultural industry.

We know that West Dean Gardens are close to your heart. Please help us ensure that your most cherished places are cared for into the future by supporting the gardeners of tomorrow.

Can you fund one day's work? That's just £70 per year for the next three years.

If you would like to make a regular donation to help support the first three years of this programme, please contact our fundraising team on 01243 818 284 or download a direct debit form. We apologise that our website does not currently have an online function for regular donations.

Donate Now

To help the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund please click on the donate now button below.

West Dean Gardens volunteer accepted onto the prestigious Kew apprenticeship scheme

Sam Stapleton came to West Dean Gardens to gain work experience in 2018. He is now on the apprenticeship scheme at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew

"University hadn't been for me. I knew I wanted to start a career in horticulture and so I applied to Kew and Wisley to join their apprenticeship programmes. On a visit to West Sussex, my uncle and aunt introduced me to West Dean Gardens and I fell in love instantly.

I emailed Jim and Sarah to ask if they had an apprenticeship available. They didn't, but they said if I was willing to volunteer, I could work with them for as long as I liked. I jumped at the chance.

During my time at West Dean, I learned most of my current horticultural skills; from seed sowing the 'West Dean way' to replanting a Dicksonia antartica (tree fern). I feel really lucky to have been trained by such a knowledgeable and friendly team. They spread to me their love for gardening and West Dean.

Jim and Sarah gave me a reference for Kew and I believe that's what secured me an interview with them. I started my apprenticeship at Kew in August 2018 and I'm now working in an amazing gardening institution. I'm learning from great and knowledgeable gardeners from all around the world. I've been part of the renovation of the Plant Family Beds where we had to dig up 102 separate beds. We've also created new rose beds in the Rose Garden, and I've been part of many other exciting projects.

One day I hope to become a head gardener and manage a historic garden like West Dean. Jim and Sarah opened my eyes to horticulture and it's thanks to them I'm at Kew today."

"Great enthusiasm and ambition, a genuine interest in horticulture, a willingness to learn and abilities in communication and team work were Sam's key attributes while working with the West Dean Gardens team in 2018. He was an obvious candidate for future horticultural training and now he's an apprentice at Kew. I'm sure he'll follow this up with further horticultural education and become great gardener of the future."

Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor, West Dean Gardens

"Sam's application really stood out as a prospective Kew apprentice, I could tell by his enthusiasm for the work that he had done in the Loire Valley in France and for West Dean Gardens that we should offer him an interview. Of the hundreds of applications I see every year some stand out by having experience in a quality horticultural environment; these gardens and nurseries are special places where horticultural talent is nurtured and trainees learn the correct techniques from the outset. This is what determines a professional gardener from a keen amateur. Having known Jim and Sarah from my early days at Kew I have always respected their judgement, if they say someone is good I tend to go with it"

Martin Staniforth, Training Manager, School of Horticulture, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew

Help preserve our future

West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

Find out how you can help support us