25 Years of Glorious Gardening

This year marks 25 years since head gardeners, husband and wife, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, began the transformation of West Dean into award-winning gardens, in the wake of the Great Storms of 1987. In the years since 1991, they have revitalised the 19th century landscape and overseen tremendous changes which have brought the gardens international respect for both the quality and variety of horticultural practice.

West Dean is one of the most significant restored gardens open to the public today. Creatively inspired by its rich heritage and setting within the South Downs, the 92-acres are brimming with features to enjoy, including an impressive collection of 13 working Victorian glasshouses, a 300-foot Edwardian pergola, a heritage fruit collection in the Walled Garden, a Kitchen Garden, a Spring and Woodland Garden and occasional surreal fibreglass tree.

The 49-acre St Roche's Arboretum is of interest all year round with its fine collection of trees but is a must-see in late spring with its abundant display of rhododendrons and azaleas. The 2.5 mile Parkland walk that links the grounds to the arboretum is a beautiful circular walk with breathtaking views of the flint house of West Dean College and the surrounding South Downs landscape.

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"Jim and Sarah have given much of their lives to the gardens at West Dean. Over the many years that I have visited the garden I am always amazed at the high level of horticulture that is displayed in the grounds, and under glass. Over 25 years this incredible pair have gardened to a level that is admirable, and inspirational."

Christine Walkden, horticulturist, broadcaster and writer.

Photographic exhibition

A new photographic display will illustrate the highlights of 25 Years of Glorious Gardening in the renovated 'mushroom shed' at West Dean Gardens (opens May). Free entry with a ticket to the gardens (adult standard entry £8.50, children go FREE).


25 Years of Glorious Gardening
Walled Fruit Garden, West Dean Gardens
Edwardian Pergola, West Dean Gardens
Edwardian Pergola, Photo credit: Vicki Isted
Summer borders, West Dean Gardens
Wooden bench, West Dean Gardens
Save the Glasshouses at West Dean Gardens

Save the Glasshouses

It is over 120 years since the glasshouses were erected at West Dean Gardens which are listed Grade II on the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Designed by Foster & Pearson between 1895 and 1901 the 13 Victorian houses are some of the finest examples in the UK. The jewel in the crown of the walled Kitchen Garden, the magnificent glasshouses remain in constant use to this day not only to nurture new plants but also new horticulturists learning their craft. The nectarine and late vinery house is in desperate need of renovation. It will take £40,000 to complete a full restoration to bring the glasshouse back to life and preserve it for the next 25 years and beyond.

Save the Glasshouses appeal
This is what your donation will help to purchase:

  • Nearly 2,000 metres of treated timber
  • 120 panes of glass
  • 70 litres of paint and primer
  • 100kg of putty

For more information and to donate to the Save the Glasshouses appeal online visit www.westdeangardens.org.uk/appeal.

Our horticultural heritage

"The West Dean glasshouses are exceptionally important. They must be preserved at all costs because of their history, their central role in the story of such a great garden and their continuing value for one of Britain's most exemplary centres of practical horticulture."

Robin Lane Fox, Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford.

H is for Heritage... find out about the many heritge features at West Dean Gardens.