Tuesday, 9 June 2015

West Dean Gardens

I made my first visit of the year to West Dean Gardens at the weekend. The weather was good with blue skies and a few clouds - although it could have done with being a little warmer! Never mind. It was good to get out and stretch my legs - and my camera!
West Dean Gardens are amazing. I first heard about them on Gardeners World many years ago and as they're only a 45 minute drive away, just north of Chichester, I headed down for a good look and have been going back 2 or 3 times a year ever since. Set in the grounds of West Dean College, the gardens have formal beds and borders, a walled orchard of apples, pears, cherries and the like, a walled vegetable garden, several glass houses growing everything from tomatoes to orchids, a 300ft long pergola which looks fabulous in high summer, a woodland walk that takes you up over the hills with stunning views and a rather nice tea room. Amongst other things.
I can't recommend it highly enough, it really is worth a visit and if you like a good walk, you can find enough to do and see to be there all day.
Naturally, I took a photo or 2. Hundred that is. Actually, it was more like 300!!
One of my main reasons for visiting at this time of year is to see the daisies. If you make the effort to visit the woodland walk, as you approach the top of the hill you come across a meadow full of millions of daisies that just takes your breath away. Well it does mine. Did I mention daisies are my favourite flower?...
 There are so many, that viewed en masse they look like a layer of snow on the ground.
 You can see the gentle slope of the hill in this shot.
They just go on and on... 

 I rather like this photo taken standing under the trees as I was facing into the sun. The shade above and below looks very effective. And if you look, you'll see the next meadow beyond the fence doesn't have a single flower. That's because there are sheep in that meadow! The flowers don't stand a chance there!
 Millions. Go on. Count them...
This is the view from the top of the hill, looking towards the College buildings.
And a bit further on, on full zoom.
And this is the view from the vegetable garden, looking back up onto the hill. If you look carefully, just above and to the left of the chimney, are some tiny people walking across the top of the hill. That's where I was. And here they are again, zoomed in. It was so peaceful up there. Just me and a few sheep. 
Then it was time to explore the walled gardens and orchards. This lovely little old fashioned potting shed had onions and garlic strung up from the ceiling. I can't tell you the fragrance as I walked through the door! The warm smell of onion was almost overpowering - so strong it almost made your eyes water!

I just love the texture on this leaf - a begonia rex of some sort I think. Look at all those bumps and furrows and fine hairs.
And I also love these great big waxy leaves with their striking markings. And the grills on the floor. Aren't they amazing?? 
 I think this is one of those big leaves, just about to unfurl.
 And Joseph's Coat - I've always wanted but never had, one of these...

Then into the hot house for a little orchid fix. They completely rebuilt and repaired the orchid house last year and it looks so much better now.
 This is a macro shot of another begonia rex.

 This is the sunken garden, at the foot of the 300ft pergola (more of that another day). The gardeners spent several years laboriously regenerating and replanting this area and boy, was it worth both the work and the wait. It is truly lovely and tranquil. If you look at the far side of the photo, there are some steps. As I was about to go up them I saw the following carved into them -
I've had trouble finding the meanings of these words until it finally dawned on me that they might be Latin, not English. Again it was a bit of a hunt but I found the following translation that seems to fit -

Examine the Past, Examine the Present, Examine the Future


A fitting place to finish today I think. 

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