Winter and spring walks are a joy at West Dean whatever the season or weather! Around every corner or surveying the wider landscape, you are bound to find beauty and amusement to enhance your soul.
Early Spring (Feb) heralds the gardeners at the West Dean estate hard at work cutting and trimming, pruning and titivating the more formal gardens, or muck / compost spreading – ready for the growing season ahead. But there are gems to be seen and shared!
The walled gardens are cleared and freshley composted, grass edgings sharply cut and the fruit trees have been pruned. Under the apple trees are planted amazing pale mauve vernal crocus and some snowdrops. The greenhouses are busy growing on cuttings and early seedlings – it is still too early for many but the display of winter salads in clay pots were a tantalising reminder of what a variety can be grown at this time of year.
By following the valley in front of West Dean House itself you follow the River Lavant and streams as they meander through the garden. This shrubby area punctuated with dragon’s teeth bridges, informal beds with early Hellebore’s and bulbs and winter flowering shrubs look to the South Downs and the sheep pasture beyond. Sit on a bench to relax or sniff the sweet scents of early flowers or watch the bumble bees on the ivy flowers. There are plenty of benches to sit on for a view and quiet contemplation.
You may also like to go into the Parish church where the Estate’s mentor – Edward James is laid to rest in a stunning tomb. He encouraged the arts movement here and made it a world renowned college for arts and crafts where you can indulge in short or longer degree courses.
So after all these exertions and enjoyment then make a beeline for the cafeteria for a lovely soup, or cup of tea and cake or more substantial lunch.
The entry price increases in March, as do the opening hours, but at whatever time of year – this Garden is a joy to visit.
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