Support Us

Here at West Dean, the extensive gardens and grounds give an enormous amount of pleasure to thousands of visitors every year. You tell us they provide inspiration for your art, ideas for your garden, a place for quiet contemplation and something new and beautiful to see and admire on every visit.

Whatever your reason for enjoying the gardens at West Dean, we know that for you, this is a special place.

Your support of the Gardens helps to ensure we can maintain and preserve them for your continued pleasure and for future generations. There are lots of ways you can help; support our Trainee Horticulturalist scheme or you could arrange to leave a gift in your will.

Find out more about other ways to support the Gardens and College.

Thank you for your support.

The Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund

Can you help kick-start a gardener's career by making a donation to the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund?

In the year that they retire, we are establishing a fund in honour of the tremendous legacy that Head Gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have left in these gardens; to give someone at the start of their career, the chance they need to work towards managing a garden like West Dean.

Jim and Sarah have spent the last 28 years revitalising the magnificent landscape you see today and making West Dean Gardens one of the greatest restored gardens in the UK. After 28 years, they have decided it's time for a rest - hence their retirement in spring 2019.

Passionate about educating the gardeners of tomorrow, Jim and Sarah have long worked to close the nationwide skills gap and provide opportunities to build a fruitful career in horticulture. With this in mind, and to celebrate their great contribution to West Dean Gardens, we intend to establish a Trainee Horticulturalist post in their name.


When you visit West Dean you tell us how much you admire Jim and Sarah and their transformation of the gardens. This is your opportunity to celebrate their legacy and help shape someone's horticultural career.

Through a complete annual cycle, the trainee will work with the West Dean Gardens team, learning about every aspect of the gardens and gaining practical experience that will act as a springboard for their career. They will be eligible to apply to the most prestigious horticultural training programmes in the country, including the RHS Diploma or Kew apprenticeship scheme; without this experience, they may not be considered.

The cost to deliver the Trainee Horticulturalist post next year is £17,400 which covers their salary, membership of the Professional Gardeners' Guild and vital health and safety training courses. Our ambition is, with your help, to secure enough money to fund the first three years of this programme, a total of £54,900 (including inflation). Your gift over the next three years will make a huge impact for someone entering the horticultural industry.

We know that West Dean Gardens are close to your heart. Please help us ensure that your most cherished places are cared for into the future by supporting the gardeners of tomorrow.

Read how trainee Laura Mellor got on when she started at West Dean Gardens.

Large gardens want people to come with experience, but it's so difficult to gain experience in the first place, its a catch 22. We want to set up a fund to help a person right at the beginning of their horticultural journey so they can one day manage large gardens like West Dean.

Sarah Wain


We have recently been overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm of our Gardens supporters and are therefore not currently recruiting new volunteers. If you would like to be considered when we do need some extra help, please detail your experiences, skills and contact details in a note to:

Alternatively you can write to us at:

The Edward James Foundation
West Dean
West Sussex
PO18 0QZ

My year at West Dean Gardens

"I volunteered one day a week whilst studying for my RHS Level 2 Horticultural Diploma.

The gardens are renowned for their high standard and when I worked there I experienced those high standards for myself and learned a lot. Without any doubt volunteering at West Dean helped me pass my RHS diploma. I believe it must be highly valued by any student of horticulture.

The garden team always gave their time and shared their knowledge with me enthusiastically. I always finished my days at West Dean feeling I had learnt something new.

Volunteering at West Dean offered me a wide range of experience and learning including:

  • In the Glasshouses:
    Watering duties, potting on, cuttings, dead heading, staking, clearing, tidying
  • In the Vegetable Garden:
    Weeding, building structures, harvesting, tieing in
  • In the Orchards:
  • In the Spring Garden:
    Bulb planting, weeding, pruning, lawn edging, leaf blowing.

I will always be grateful to West Dean Gardens … for the positive and significant contribution they made to my career."

Leigh Glover, Volunteer

Support West Dean Gardens

West Dean Gardens is part of a registered charity and its upkeep and care are only possible with the support of generous donors, friends and legacy gifts.

If you share our passion for the gardens and gardening excellence,
please find out how you can help support their upkeep.