The gardeners at West Dean are set to welcome visitors back this weekend (re-opening Sunday 1st February). Childish excitement abounds when playing the ‘can-you-spot-it game?’ as bulbs erupt from their winter quarters on the lawns. 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 aconites? In some parts of the garden, winter aconite seed, broadcast in years gone by, is now appearing as the finished plant, plus ruff and yellow flower. What a joy! Snowdrops are really making their mark now plus their followers, the galanthophiles. Over 500,000 bulbs have been planted in recent years throughout the gardens and every year the display is more impressive.
Getting Ready for Spring
Garden work has continued at quite a lick on sunny days through the winter months, with far fewer days lost this year to interminable rainy days. Pruning on the pergola is almost complete, the glasshouses are all washed, borders have been given the border-management- treatment á la West Dean and potting up plants continues unabated. Real Men Sow has some good tips to bring the growing veg season forward, including how to build a cold frame.
Will and Stu are once again trimming greenery around the gardens which provides a linking theme to the landscape and some of the topiary ‘blobs’ and ‘dumpling’ shapes are developing nicely. A lot of diseased variegated aucuba has been removed from borders close to the sunken garden, consequently opening up welcome views onto the Edwardian Pergola.
Work on the Lavant River banks in the spring garden will continue once the weather warms up. Some work will resume in summer but, in the meantime, bare beds alongside the river will be planted up in March to April. The river started flowing incredibly early at the end of last year which took us by surprise and it’s going full bore at the moment.
Finally, one of the Victorian glasshouses has now been restored and will be open for viewing this month. We launched the glasshouse appeal late last year as our dear old glasshouses are in great need of a substantial facelift. The work is being lovingly carried out by the West Dean Maintenance Team who really know the business of glasshouse renovation and without them it would difficult to look after the fabric of these historic houses.