The fruit collection at West Dean Gardens features over 100
varieties of apple and 45 varieties of pears, many of them trained
into exquisite traditional shapes. There is, however, more to an
apple than a quick bite.
Yes folks, it's official, Spring has sprung! How do we know
this? Not because we have passed some arbitrary date such as the
1st of March but because we are gardeners and are attuned to all
those subtle, sensory signals that silently but insistently say
"Winter is past, the sap is rising, it's all before you, a new
growing year awaits.
Yorkshire rhubarb, from the hallowed rhubarb triangle around
Wakefield has been awarded the coveted protected designation of
origin (PDO) status by the European Commission, prohibiting anyone
growing it outside the region from calling it the same. It gives it
similar status to Cornish clotted cream and Melton Mowbray's pork
In 1991, in the aftermath of the Great Storms of 1987, Head
Gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain began a programme of
renovating works at West Dean Gardens. They have been the
inspirational leaders of the professional garden team, bringing to
the place zeal, imagination, deep horticultural knowledge and an
ever-growing understanding and enthusiasm for the gardens and its
Back in December I was absolutely convinced that my wintersweet
(Chimonanthus), a shrub renowned for both its headily-scented
winter flowers, and taking its own sweet time to getting around to
flowering, was finally about to do the business this year.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day I have just spent a very
pleasant day pruning roses at home. It's not a huge garden and,
like most of us, I want to grow more plants in it than the space
will sensibly allow.
Early spring is the best time to see the emerging displays of
snowdrops and crocuses which carpet the lawns here, until spring
when the daffodils will light up the gardens. Who can ever get
bored with coming across a delicious bunch of snowdrops or winter
On one level early January is the nadir of the gardening year.
Days are short, light levels low, temperatures chilly and
everything seems deeply dormant. But look more closely and the
signs are there that nature's pulse is already strengthening.