What's looking good in summer?

After a miserably cold and wet beginning to the year, West Dean is now bathed in glorious sunshine and the gardeners have changed their fretting from endless rain to endless watering as it's been so dry recently. The month of May revealed just over two inches (in old money) of rain but so far June hasn't released more than a cupful; the last time this month was so dry was in 2006 when we recorded only 6.5mm for the whole month. Rain's a nerdy obsession of mine, but recording it is such a useful task when choosing the time to water and for how long.

Despite all this there is much to enjoy currently at West Dean Gardens, the roses are flowering beautifully especially those along the back of the Rose Garden in the Walled Fruit Garden. They're dreamy shades of purple, mauve, pink and rose and they intermingle so beautifully with similar coloured Viticella Clematis which thrive in our soil and are happily trouble free.

The colours of the hot border in the Kitchen Garden are about to embark on their annual firework extravaganza so come along and have a peek. Oranges, reds and yellows are sizzling together for a slap-up display from now until late September. A cool green backdrop to this is provided by the range of vegetables growing in the adjacent beds, look out for the exhibition onions, which are growing apace, they clearly are enjoying the sun.

Begonias in all their glory provide diverse interest under glass at West Dean Gardens; their riotous colours are providing a thrilling summer display in one of the free standing houses and in the next-door display house, species begonias, of assorted shapes and hues, are providing all year round interest. Begonias are much maligned, but I for one love them!

Out in the wider world of West Dean Gardens, mowing is the main occupation at this time of year. Having created wildflower meadows there comes a time when they require a haircut and it's a job which takes considerable time to complete throughout the Gardens and the Arboretum, especially if there are breakdowns with machinery. After cutting, the grass will be allowed to grow up again for a late wildflower show in August and September. Along with watering, the gardens team, including volunteers, are engaged in summer pruning of fruit, planting vegetables, summer pruning of climbers and general mowing. So do please visit to see how we're getting on. While you're with us avail yourself to a delicious tea or lunch and pop into the plants sales area to see whether you can be tempted by some of the weekly bought in plants.

Don't forget that the annual West Dean Chilli Fiesta will soon be upon us, so for all you chilli-heads why not purchase your tickets online, if you get in early you can save 20%. See you there!
Sarah Wain, Garden Supervisor, 26 June 2018

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