PGG member, Jim Buckland arrived at West Dean Gardens, West Sussex in 1991, an Honours graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and having already had a career encompassing the management of historic and public gardens in both UK and Australia. What he and his wife, Gardens Supervisor, Sarah Wain found was a Garden devastated by neglect and the tragic storms of 1987.

Over the past 21 years they, with the support of a small permanent gardens team – about half the number that would have been employed in its Victorian heyday – and an army of volunteers have ensured that the 90 acres of grounds have undergone a bold redevelopment designed to bring the nineteenth century gardens into the twenty-first century.

This huge undertaking has been acknowledged by the Royal Horticultural Society who have recognised this achievement by awarding Jim Buckland the RHS Associate of Honour, which will be presented at this year RHS’s Hampton Court Garden Show.

Distinguished service to horticulture

“The award is conferred to someone who has given distinguished service to horticulture in their professional working life, Jim Buckland is being honoured for the work he has done at West Dean in the transformation of a neglected garden into a great showpiece, which will encourage and inspire all visitors.” Eoin Redahan, RHS continues. “The work Jim has achieved, particularly, in the Walled Gardens and Victorian Glasshouses is exemplary.”

Thanks to the excellent and hardworking gardens team

Jim Buckland: “I am both delighted and honoured to be awarded the RHS Associate of Honour “for distinguished service to Horticulture” and accept it as an accolade for all who have shared in the work of the redevelopment of West Dean Gardens over the last two decades. Firstly for my long suffering wife and partner in crime, Sarah Wain, who has inspired, cajoled and admonished as necessary over our 25 years of working together; secondly, to the consistently excellent and hardworking gardens team at West Dean in all its variations over the last 21 years; thirdly to my manager and colleague, Simon Ward, Agent to the Edward James Foundation, for his counsel and patience throughout the project and finally, to the unwaveringly supportive Trustees of the Foundation who have been brave enough to commit to the long term future of the gardens.”

If you would like to see Jim and the teams handiwork The Gardens opening times are: March – October 10.30am – 5.00pm and November – February 10.30am – 4.00pm (closed January). For 2012 there are three Garden Events celebrating specific food crops grown in the walled Gardens; MedFest 23 – 24 June, Chilli Fiesta 27 – 29 July and Apple Affair 29 – 30 September.

West Dean Gardens, Near Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QZ. For more information visit