Skip to main content

West Dean Gardens

Published on October 15th 2018
West Dean is one of the greatest restored Victorian gardens and set in the stunning rural landscape of West Sussex. Its extensive collection of glasshouses, walled kitchen garden, fruit collections, arboretum and the sunken garden are rich with creativity and social heritage.
The garden displays inspiration for visitors all year round. There are over 150 varieties of apples and pears which are trained into different forms. The wild garden which cleverly incorporates planting into the chalky landscape is encompassed by the seasonal tributaries of the Levant River.
The Edwardian Pergola competes for the most impressive element of the garden. Designed by Harold Peto, impressively it is 100 meters long and offers form and structure to the garden, covered with climbers such as clematis, rose and honeysuckle it is eye-catching all year around.
If you want to roam further, the last 5 years have seen the development of the arboretum. Clearing has revealed impressive trees and beautiful spring meadows fill the gaps between.
The restoration of the garden to get it to its current state began after the storm of 1987. Since then the husband and wife team of Gardens Manager Jim Buckland and Gardens Supervisor Sarah Wain have carried out a bold re-development programme, designed to bring the nineteenth-century gardens into the twenty-first century.
Jim Buckland takes you through some of the hidden gems of this expansive 19th century garden in the Candide Audio Tour and share some of his favourite intimate spots with listeners.

West Dean Gardens

"Many of us are striving to live ‘the good life’ but perhaps the best example of what can be achieved on UK soil is the walled garden at West Dean Gardens. Occupying a scenic stretch of East Sussex, the more than 100 acres are ideal for picnicing or those looking for things to do in Chichester with dogs, while the beautiful vistas are sure to blow all other Chichester date ideas out of the park. The walled kitchen garden has been painstakingly laid out exactly as it would be in Victorian times - be warned, you will get veg-patch envy. Four neat rows have been split between potatoes, brassicas, legumes and salads and root crops and all manner of fruits hang from the walls like delicious edible garlands. Elsewhere you’ll find the beautifully restored Victorian glasshouses, a 300 foot Edwardian pergola draped in climbing roses, honeysuckles and clematis and a landscaped park of mammoth proportions. The chalky soil might dictate what can be grown here, but that hasn’t been a hindrance judging by the abundance of produce and flowers on display. Make the most of your visit by sampling the produce in the West Dean Gardens cafe — a worthy reward after a long day’s wandering. "

If you’ve listened to the audio tour and want to find out more, we recommend reading At West Dean: The Creation of an Exemplary Garden telling the full story of Jim and Sarah’s chapter, developing and restoring the garden.

Remember if you’re visiting a garden this week you can check if there is an audio tour in the Places section of the Candide App to guide you around.

Related articles


Family Day Out: Wimpole Estate and Gardens

Walled gardens have always fascinated me. I love the secluded atmosphere and rows of sumptuous vegetables, fruit, herbs and...

Family Fun at Chatsworth House and Gardens

Home to the Cavendish family for nearly 500 years, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is set in 105 acres of fields, woods and...