West Dean Gardens in numbers

Did you know?

There have been gardens at West Dean since the original Jacobean Manor House of 1622

The gardens are listed Grade II* on the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens (No. 1000190)

The gardens cover 90 acres, including St Roche's Arboretum at 50 acres

The gardens are 240 feet (73m) above sea level

60,000 annual visitors from the UK and around the world enjoy the Sussex gardens which are open from February to December

The Visitors Centre was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales 30 years ago (1996)

25 Years of Glorious Gardening - head gardeners, husband and wife team, Sarah Wain and Jim Buckland began renovating the gardens in 1991.

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Walled garden

The fruit collection comprises 100 varieties of apples and 45 pear varieties grown in the walled fruit garden, many espalier style.

'A fabulous, magical place with, what's to my mind, the finest collection of fruit trees anywhere in the country', Toby Buckland, BBC2 Great British Garden Revival @TobyBuckland

Historic Orangery

The Orangery, an early 19th century Palm House, is believed to be by renowned architect James Wyatt (1746 to 1813)

The jewel of the crown in the gardens

The jewel in the kitchen garden - the 13 Victorian glasshouses - plus four cold frames built between 1891 to 1904 by Foster & Pearson www.westdeangardens.org.uk/donate

'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 .Money spent at West Dean's gardens has been so well spent ever since the Jim and Sarah took over the gardens.' Robin Lane Fox, FRSL, ancient historian and gardening writer.

This is where 250 varieties of chillies are grown at West Dean but only ONE rare white chilli named Streuth! this year in honour of Australian-born Sarah Wain, gardens supervisor and chilli growing expert

Spring madness

Over 500,000 bulbs have been naturalised throughout the gardens and arboretum, including Narcissi, Scilla, Lilies, Anenome, Muscari, Allium, Chinodoxia, Fritilleria, Crocus and Cyclamen. These are part of the extensive wildflower meadows to be found in all areas of the grounds and arboretum.

Laying the foundations

The 300-foot Edwardian pergola by Harold Peto was commissioned by William James 105 years ago in 1911. Edward James, aged five years, helped to lay the foundation stone a year later in 1912.

In 1991, when head gardeners, Jim buckland and Sarah Wain began the transformation of the derelict gardens - following the Great Storm of 1987 - the pergola was in pieces on the ground. Now restored to its full glory it's a delight draped in wisteria, clematis and roses in summer. In winter the exposed bare structure has its own charm, especially when coverd in snow.

Trees at West Dean

The Cedar of Lebanon tree on the east side of the house, alongside the main driveway, was planted in 1740. The Blue Cedar on the West Lawn was planted by King Edward VII in 1905.

The circuit walk through the 50-acre St. Roche's Arboretum is a two and a quarter mile walk (3.6km) and provides stunning views of the South Downs. Here Californian Redwoods planted in 1992 are already 30 feet high.

Hot stuff!

Country Life named West Dean Gardens Chilli Fiesta one of the "Top 5 summer food festivals" in the country. The annual fiesta was set up by Head Gardeners, Jim buckland and Sarah Wain, has grown from humble beginnings and now attracts around 25,000 festival-goes every year.


It takes a team of nine permanent gardeners and approximately 40 volunteers (around eight per day), including international volunteers and, for the first time this year, a Historic and Botanic Gardens Training Programme trainee - to keep the gardens in tip top condition.

"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 @christinewalkd