About the garden
Edward James Foundation Ltd
West Dean Gardens is a restored 92-acre award-winning garden open to the public and is internationally respected for both the quality and variety of horticultural practice. Inspired by the BBC’s Victorian Kitchen Garden (1987), explore the restored Walled Kitchen Garden, laid out in a classic Victorian design and see the splendid 13 working Victorian glasshouses designed by Foster & Pearson between 1895 and 1901. These are claimed to be some of the few working glasshouses in the UK and house a huge variety of plants – from aubergines to orchids and peaches to peppers.
Outside are orderly rows of cabbage, carrots, leeks, lettuce and beetroot, alongside herbaceous borders in rich reds, oranges and yellows. The kitchen garden has more than one mile of walls covered in trained espalier fruit trees and a fruit garden with 100 apple varieties. Beyond the walled garden the 35-acre ornamental grounds, where more than 500,000 spring bulbs have been naturalised, act as a foil to the many heritage features. These include a 300-foot Edwardian Pergola constructed in 1912 and designed by Harold Peto, and the award-winning Sunken Garden where rich planting provides intimacy and sense of shelter, in contrast to the spaciousness of the surrounding lawns.
The Spring Garden features flintwork bridges crisscrossing the River Lavant, a rustic summerhouse with moss walls, seaweed decorations, heather ceiling and thatched roof and a laburnum and ivy tunnel. A stroll to St. Roche’s Arboretum reveals an extensive tree collection including Californian Redwoods planted in 1992, already more than 30ft high, and offers a circular two and a half mile walk with stunning panoramic views of the South Downs. The Visitor Centre houses an imaginative gift shop, plant sales area and a licensed restaurant, which uses produce grown in the gardens. Dogs on short leads are welcome.