Let's (garden) party
We've been celebrating 25 Years of Glorious Gardening this year at West Dean. Head Gardeners, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, began renovating the 19th century landscape in 1991 in the wake of the Great Storms. A lifetime's work deserves a year-long celebration and we continued on Friday last with a Garden Party on the picnic lawn.
It's always a risk planning anything outdoors this time of year but the weather held as horticulturists, VIP guests, Trustees, colleagues and volunteers enjoyed the autumn sunshine, champagne and Pimm's and delicious bites of food, all beautifully prepared and served by the hospitality team at West Dean.
How it all started...
Inspired by BBC's The Victorian Kitchen Garden (1987) a 13-part series presented by Peter Thoday, horticulturist, Jim and Sarah began by restoring the collection of 13 Victorian glasshouses, some of the few working in the UK. Peter was very supportive of Gardens Manager Jim's plans for transforming the derelict gardens at West Dean into the award-winning location they are today.
Peter says, "The gardens at West Dean are the best place in Britain to see the skills that underpin the craft of gardening practced to perfection".
Most of the gardens' restoration work has been carried out in-house and further work has included: re-building the 300-foot Edwardian pergola designed by Harold Peto; redesigning the Sunken Garden, originally a Victorian parterre; establishing a 145-variety fruit collection in the walled garden; restoring the Spring and Woodland Garden which features 1820s flint and stonework bridges virtually lost in encroaching vegetation; and ongoing work in St. Roche's Arboretum, where Calfornian Redwoods, planted in 1992 are now over 30 feet high.
Guests enjoyed a mini display of archive photos of the gardens 25 years ago. The full exhibition 25 Years of Glorious Gardening is currently open in the 'old mushroom shed' at West Dean. FREE entry with a gardens entry ticket.