I have slowly started to visit some of the places on our Summer days out bucket list, one of which is West Dean Gardens. My plan to spend some time bonding with Kipper, eating cake and looking at beautiful gardens was finally coming to fruition. Our first stop was the restaurant for a feed. Its a lovely stone building with a lovely patio area, with adequate shade which is exactly what we needed on a hot day. They serve a wide range of drinks, cakes, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salads and hot meals. It was really lovely sitting watching the world go by and drinking coffee with a friend.
Once the babies were fed we headed off to explore, you enter the gardens through the gift shop and the lady at the till was really helpful. Suggesting the best things to see mindful of the hot weather and the babies. Our first stop was the walled Kitchen Garden and it was beautiful.
As well as these lovely boarders and hoards of flowers, there are also some old traditional Victorian glass houses. Being in the kitchen garden the majority of them are using to grow fruit and veg. There are thirteen in total and currently there is a project on to restore the glass houses and as such an appeal which you can read about here. We do try to grow our own fruit and veg at home so it would be a great place to take Monkey to when he is a bit older and interested in finding out more. Due to the fact that the head gardeners have been there 25 years there is a small exhibition within the walled garden. It has a lots of information about the formation of the gardens including the sunken garden which is where we headed next.
Having the pram and it being a hot day we didn’t actually explore as much as I would have liked to have done. The garden itself was restored in 2013 and is full of perennials (my favourites) so it would have been nice to stop and take note of the planning. But I wanted to keep Kipper in the shade as much as possible so the 100 metre pergola was a better option.
I have never seen one which is as long as this one, and its planted up with various climbers and roses. We walked along marvelling at its structure. I can imagine when the Wisteria is out it is truly beautiful. Be warned if you are visiting with a buggy there are steps at the other end, but nothing too substantial. I would imagine it would be a lovely place to stop and chat or just to take in the views across the lawns.
Instead it was running into the babies lunchtime so we decided to walk back past the orangery to the restaurant. Of course we arrived at the busiest time and there were no tables available outside that had shade. Unfortunately a prerequisite for us, however the ladies serving were ever so helpful. Offering rugs so that we could set up on the shaded bank area. They couldn’t have been more helpful if they tried. We both ordered sandwiches which were very nice and considering how busy they were we didnt need to wait long.
There is so much of the garden we didn’t get a chance to see on this trip, so I am already planning to visit again once the weather has cooled down.
West Dean Gardens is linked to the college and runs a series of courses ranging from art to photograph to horticulture. I must admit they have a lay flat one day photography course which I am seriously thinking about taking since my pictures leave a lot to be desired. They also hold an annual Chilli Festia the first week in August which looks like great fun and includes live latin music, cookery demonstrations and camping!
Things you need to know:
- The gardens are open seven days a week from Feb 2nd to Dec 24th , opening at 10.30am with closing times vary depending on the time of year.
- The restaurant and gift shop open at 9am on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays
- Adults cost £6.10 with gift aid in Feb, Nov and Dec. Prices increase to £9.40 with gift aid for the rest of the year. They also hold special months where RHS members can visit for free so it is worth calling in advance to check when this is. Children are free although there will be an additional charge for children ages 5+ on event days
- Address – West Dean, Chichester PO18 0RX
- You can find out more on their website
Have you visited any nice garden recently? I am always on the look out for places to add to my bucket list so please do mention them in the comments below if you get a chance.