Book Review – At West Dean

Over the years, I’ve become a bit blasé about gardening books. It takes a lot to really impress me but a new book has, and it’s destined to become a classic!

At West Dean – The creation of an exemplary garden

‘At West Dean – The creation of an exemplary garden’ is the story behind the creation of one of the most admired gardens in the UK. It’s a beautifully written book and the photography is stunning. Sure enough, it’s fascinating learning how Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain took on the challenge of restoring this historic garden, a garden that had slowly declined over the previous decades and then subsequently devastated by the storms in the late 1980’s.

Pretty and practical

But the book is so much more than the story of this remarkable garden. It’s packed with insights and superb practical advice from two of the country’s most respected and practical gardeners. Early on in the book, there’s a wonderful section on the Wisdom of Hindsight, where the authors muse on their learnings over the past 25 years, and the pearls of wisdom (such as Hasten slowly!) are as relevant to creating small city gardens as they are to huge estates like West Dean.

Having been lucky enough to film at West Dean on a number of occasions over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see these two marvellous gardeners in action, working alongside their enthusiastic team and many volunteers. I’ve watched them demonstrate and patiently teach the very best techniques, from pruning shrubs and fruit trees to laying paths and compost making. The book delightfully interweaves the key elements of the garden , such as the water features and the fabulous greenhouses, with plenty of practical, down to earth advice .

‘At West Dean’ is a joy to read , and the photographs by Andrea Jones are sumptuous. It’s a substantial book, and that’s reflected in the hefty £40 price but, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. This is a book that I will treasure for years.

Richard Jackson

About At West Dean

‘I am in awe of what Sarah Wain & Jim Buckland have achieved at West Dean and this superb book is a testament to inspired, uncompromising horticulture at its very best.’
Monty Don

At West Dean is the story of how Sarah Wain and Jim Buckland brought back to life a neglected garden in Sussex and is a celebration of the gardening excellence they have established there.

Super-tidy sheds, meticulously cared for glasshouses, a biomass boiler and steaming compost heaps are the engine that drive the garden forward but these would be nothing without the artistic vision and thoughtful philosophy that Sarah Wain and Jim Buckland bring to this exemplary garden, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. While West Dean’s expansive site is the starting point, At West Dean highlights the unique combination of persistence, skill and artistry that make for a successful
garden in any set of circumstances.

Richly illustrated with specially commissioned photographs by award-winning garden photographer Andrea Jones. The glories of the garden through the seasons are shown to their full extent, alongside shots of gardeners at work – pruning and tying in climbers, mowing, raking, labelling, washing pots, stacking canes. The results of their labours enhance the book – carefully pruned trees, exquisite lawns, wildflower meadows, renovated flintwork, beautiful vegetables and freshly topiarized shrubs.

At West Dean sets a sublime standard to aspire to and is a joyful reminder of the infinite rewards to be gained from a hard day’s work in the garden.

ISBN: 9780711238923

Publisher: White Lion Publishing


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