A to Z

G is for glasshouses

The 13 Victorian glasshouses by Foster & Pearson are a highlight of the Kitchen Garden at West Dean.The majority, together with the four sets of cold frames, were erected between 1890 and 1900 by Foster & Pearson. They demonstrate the variety of types and styles in use during the period from three-quarter span houses, to a cucumber and melon house, and pineapple pits.

Victorian glasshouses @westdeangardens

There is always colour on display from the large collection of plants including exotic plants, orchids, strawberry plants, figs, nectarines, peaches, gourds, grapes and melons. West Dean’ Gardens‘ wonderful collections of fruit and vegetables are on show throughout their life-cycle and are displayed for visitors’ enjoyment.

The glasshouses are heated by a woodchip burning boiler which also heats the College and associated buildings using woodchips produced from West Dean Estate’s commercial forestry.

Chilli plants in summer in a Victorian glasshouse @westdeangardens

In recognition of Sarah Wain’s contribution to the redevelopment project she received two Awards in 2013. The Professional Gardeners’ Guild ‘Loyal and Outstanding Service Award’ in recognition of her dedication, drive and commitment to the highest horticultural standards “instrumental in raising the standard and profile of the West Dean Gardens in general, and of the restored Walled Kitchen Garden and Victorian Glasshouses in particular, to the point where they are now seen as being exemplary in their field.” Sarah also received the Institute of Horticulture Award and is widely recognised as the superb grower of West Dean’s imaginative glasshouse crops including tomatoes, chillies and herbs. Sarah is Chairperson of the RHS Vegetable Trials Forum.

Grape vines inside a Victorian glasshouse @westdeangardens

Urgent Glasshouse Appeal

These splendid glasshouses were completely derelict before their restoration in the early 1990s. They are magnificent examples of Victorian craft and ingenuity. Repainting is undertaken on a four year cycle; the exteriors over summer, when the weather is kinder, and the interiors over winter when the glasshouses can be emptied. In addition, they are hand scrubbed from top to bottom, inside and out, each winter, a process that takes two tolerant gardeners two months to complete.

Because of their age and despite restoration it has become necessary to commence a programme of completely rebuilding the timber superstructures of the glasshouse range. This started two years ago and is programmed to continue over the next decade to ensure their survival for another century.

“The glass houses at West Dean are an inspirational model of how best to use any greenhouse. They are a treasure for all gardeners.” Monty Don

Summer salads and herbs in the cold frames @westdeangardens

For more on the glasshouse appeal or to donate online visit www.westdean.org.uk/gardens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s