Friday, 15 January 2010

An amazing winter wonderland - West Dean

Snow's melting, sun's returned, and I can't think of a better garden to visit than West Dean near Chichester in Sussex, particularly in the late afternoon, when the shadows are long and the spring bulbs are about to push up through acres of grass at this idyllic setting in the folds of the South Downs.

Former home of Edward James, the 100-acre estate supports a College of the same name dedicated to education in the arts and crafts (you can study many different subjects here from making stringed musical instruments to photography, bookbinding or metalwork!) and a garden that draws visitors from all over the world.

Harold Peto (of Iford Manor fame) designed the magnificent giant pergola (above), which always looks spectacular - even in winter - for this is when you can see just what an architectural feat it is, with its columns reflecting in the pools of water below.

Gertrude Jekyll also had an input here, with her wild water garden to the west of the main house, alongside the river Lavant, which meanders through the gardens. Her only other water garden is at Vann.

West Dean also has 35 acres of ornamental gardens, an arboretum and a superb Victorian walled kitchen garden, which is particularly memorable in summer with its fruit trees and magnificent herbaceous border which is ablaze with colour.

But for me, this garden is exceptional in winter, with the clear light and low sun in the sky, casting shadows across the landscape.

Also worth looking out for at West Dean are the special themed weekends that take place during the year - the Wholly Herbs event, the Chilli Fiesta, the Totally Tomato Show and the Apple Affair, when the displays are spectacular - do check the website for details - you won't be disappointed.


14 comments:

  1. What gorgeous photos you've captured of this special place!
    Brenda

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  2. I bet you're really disappointed that the snow has melted, Tiggerlot. Ha, ha. West Dean looks like another fabulous destination. I can see why you enjoy it in winter.

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  3. We visited on a very hot day early July on the way to Goodwood - despite the heat it was still lovely and I particularly liked the area around the stream

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  4. There's so much peace and tranquility in your photos of West Dean. Having never been overseas, I live vicariously through the tours of wonderful gardens you invite me on through your posts. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Oh, I can just imagine what fun it would be to come here for a course on photography. Wonderful shots. Now, if I could just get my man interested in building pergolas...

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  6. West Dean is gorgeous - I like the photos of the tree and the bridge; I get a sense of history from them. The reflections and shadows in your photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. As an arborist, I just love the large tree with it's limbs reaching to the ground.

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  8. Wonderful light and shadows Charlotte! The water elements and pergola with the shadow striped columns are great. Thank you for yet another fabulous garden introduction! ;-) Carol

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  9. West Dean is a lovely garden and one we often visit. I envy the greenhouses so.

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  10. The tree with it's branches resting on the ground looks like the live oaks we see in the US coastal south but with Spanish moss.

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  11. I was lucky enough to visit a friend in Hampshire a couple of summers ago and she took me to West Dean :) We had a great day in this special garden.

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  12. What a delightful introduction! The branches of that tree just drew me in ... and the architecture and water reflections are spectacular. What admirable design to compliment nature.

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  13. I really like that bridge. It is good to see green for a change. I find myself wanting to buy tropical plants when I pass them in the stores, just to bring more green home.

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  14. Very beautiful - it makes me homesick for my native England.

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