Tag Archives: Pergola

Spring springs (or is sprung, depending on the year) at West Dean

Almost exactly a year ago I attended a course at the inspirational West Dean Gardens.  The event was a weekend course, ‘Dig your blog’ with Jane Perrone and Jacqui Hurst teaching a group how to (garden) blog.  And, although it took eight months and redundancy for me to actually post my first post, I would definitely say the foundation stones were laid a year ago at West Dean.

The photos above and below were taken during that course.
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By sheer coincidence I was back at West Dean yesterday and the difference in plant progress from last year to this is astonishing.  The fruit trees are in leaf, (and some in bloom),

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the peonies which last year were just shoots, are now in bud,

and many tulips are out.

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And yet there was a chill in the air and a rather cruel breeze whistling round my (ill judged) bare ankles, making an in depth investigation of the thirteen (thirteen!) glasshouses rather more appealing than the 2 1/2 mile Parkland Walk.

And what a show!  I’ve been to West Dean at least half a dozen times over the years but I’ve never spent much time in the glasshouses, but just look:

Acres of Auriculas,

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populous pots,

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(Echeveria Runyonii ‘Topsy Turvey’, Crassula nealeana, and Echeveria shaviana)

legion lettuces (the size of dinner plates),

sumptuous strawbs

a fecund fig

and lastly, (in the glasshouses), Nepenthes x mixta x maxima, the Pitcher Plant.  This was seriously maxima. According to Wiki answers, in addition to insects, they can also ‘eat’ mice.  I reckon this one would have given a rat a run for its money.

IMG_1887And then back outside to the 300 foot long pergola, designed by Harold Peto in 1911 and one of the longest in the country.

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And finally, something which (in addition to everything above) sums up West Dean to me – a wonderful structure (flint wall), covered in an imaginatively trained and beautifully grown flowering currant (Ribes speciousum).  Now how many times have you seen that?

IMG_1948West Dean, near Chichester, has free entry for RHS members until the end of April.  Just go, you won’t regret it.