Meet the Gardeners at West Dean

Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain are the inspirational leaders of the garden team, bringing zeal, imagination, deep horticultural knowledge and an ever-growing understanding and enthusiasm for the gardens and its history.

It's over 25 years since Jim and Sarah began the gardens' transformation, and since 1991 they have overseen huge changes resulting in the beautiful gardens they are today. Read the full blog.

Jim Buckland, Gardens Manager

An Honours graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Jim has managed historic public gardens in both Australia and the UK. He frequently lectures in the UK and is a regular contributor to magazines.

Jim's work at West Dean Gardens has been acknowledged by the Royal Horticultural Society. He was awarded the RHS Associate of Honour for distinguished service to horticulture in his professional working life.

Follow Jim on Twitter

Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor

Sarah's Diploma in Horticultural Science was gained in Australia, after which she worked in the temperate department at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew for three years. Returning to Australia she managed a local council nursery, and the gardens at Burnley Horticultural College where she trained. In 1987 she and husband Jim returned to the UK where they have worked together establishing gardens at Lockerly Hall in Hampshire and restoring and developing West Dean Gardens since 1991.

Sarah regularly writes for blogs and publications as well as presenting gardening talks to audiences at West Dean.

Sarah is a member of the RHS Vegetable Trials Forum and has received two awards in recognition of her contribution to West Dean Gardens. The Professional Gardeners' Guild 'Loyal and Outstanding Service Award' was given in recognition of her dedication, drive and commitment to the highest horticultural standards. Sarah also received the Institute of Horticulture Award and is widely recognised as the superb grower of West Dean's wide range of glasshouse crops including ferns, exotic ornamentals, chillies and tomatoes.

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'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 2016 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.

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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.