J is for Jim

For the past 25 years Jim Buckland has managed the gardens at West Dean, together with Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor. The husband and wife team began renovating the 19th landscape in 1991 and were recently awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award 2016 by Horticulture Week. Below is Jim's plants by numbers....

Gardening type: Tall, dark and handsome or jack-of-all-trades and master of some.

  1. The first plant I ever grew was the radish with rapid results for an impatient child. It changed my life and introduced me to the fact that gardening was fun, mysterious and potentially edible all in one go.
  2. The plant that shaped the gardener I am today is grass. It dominates most gardens in the UK and creates the all-important spaces in a garden. It's certainly made me work hardest and dominates the work load in most gardens, especially if you include edging!
  3. My favourite plant in the world is primula vulgaris, our native primrose, for its simplicity, innocence and beauty.
  4. The plant I'd love to grow more is rilliums, which don't do well on our chalky soil.
  5. If I was a plant in human form, I'd like to say I'd be an oak, quintessentially English, solid and ruggedly handsome but it's probably the radish again, fast and productive!

Adapted from My Life in Plants first published in Garden News (20 August 2016)

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Getting around the gardens.
Primulas at West Dean Gardens
An English oak tree in the parkland at West Dean
Vintage lawn mowers on display at West Dean Gardens
Vintage lawn roller @westdeangardens
Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, Head Gardeners @westdeangardens