Looking Good in October

Autumn weather can be glorious - it's my favourite season, and we're hoping that the sun will shine this autumn to entice you into the gardens at West Dean. It's a beautiful time of the year with fetching rays of sunlight illuminating the landscape - just right for the budding artists and photographers amongst you.

Summer was on a roll this year with several bright days and relatively dry months after the wet June; just the ticket for dazzling dahlias and zingy zinnias within the walled garden. These show stopping blooms were enhanced by the lack of wind and rain and there seemed to be just enough moisture in the ground to keep the displays ticking over through the drier months. There's still time to enjoy these beauties when you next visit.

Some garden tasks are distinctly hard work and no more so than tarmacking. Over the years the footpaths at West Dean have been progressively tarmacked providing a smooth service for push chairs wheel chairs and garden vehicles. It means that the paths will be long serving in all weathers and when tarred and chipped in the future, they'll be like gravel paths and more in keeping with gardens' surrounds.

During September we've been harvesting apples to sell at the gardens shop and at the annual Apple Affair at the beginning of October. Windfalls are also collected on a regular basis. The fruit is stored in the apple store in the walled garden, with some on display there and, later on, in the storeroom in the kitchen garden. The harvest has been moderate this year as opposed to the bumper harvest we enjoyed last year but there is still enough fruit for us all to enjoy.

In preparation for a healthier life make use of the arboretum as a regular destination for a walk at West Dean. I think you'll be charmed by the new views within the space and next year, following seeding bare areas with appropriate wild flower mixes, the site should be an even more floristic bonanza for your enjoyment. You'll also be able to see more of the trees now that a large part of the laurel undergrowth has been removed.

Sarah Wain, Garden Supervisor @sarahwestdean

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A blast of autumn colour

Flowering nerines will shortly be on show as a potted display. These are the varieties which require a degree of winter protection unlike some species which will survive outside at the base of a warm wall. We're gradually building up numbers so that ultimately we will fill a glasshouse for a blast of colour in October. Nerines go into dormancy over summer and are then brought back into growth with selective and careful watering. If needed, the bulbs are then carefully re-potted, the hope being they will burst into flower for our delight.

Winter squash, pumpkins and gourds

Crops are coming in from the kitchen garden, come and have a look at our gourds and winter squash which have recently been harvested. We've placed them in one of the glasshouse pits to harden their skins so that they can then be used throughout the winter for art courses at West Dean College.


Flowering Nerines
St Roche's Arboretum in autumn
A monster pumpkin in the kitchen garden
Walking the dog through the autumn leaves
Ornamental gourds