This meant we could explore the whole farm that was literally on our doorstep; fantastic for Henry as he loves seeing animals, especially chickens, and great news for me as I was able to explore the farm’s polytunnels and growing fields! It was like vegetable garden heaven!
I’m a sucker for visiting a stately home if they’ve got a working kitchen garden within the grounds!
I loved West Dean Walled Kitchen Garden and Clumber Park is quite close to home (although I don’t visit it as often as I’d like to) so during our recent holiday in Dorset, Forde Abbey was definitely on the list of things to do!
As part of the filming we did for the programme Big Dreams, Small Spaces, we were taken on an ‘Inspirational Visit’ to a place that specialised in a particular aspect of gardening that we were interested in.
When Monty saw that Richard had a passion for growing chillies, he immediately recommended that we go to West Dean College near Chichester, which is about 5 hours away from where we live!
However, once we made the journey we realised what a perfect location it was for us to visit!
The gardens surrounding the college are just out of this world, with our interest being drawn particularly to the Walled Kitchen Gardens. Not only was this a fascinating place to see vegetables, herbs and fruit grown on a spectacular scale and tour round the rows and rows of Victorian glasshouses, West Dean also specialise in growing over 250 different varieties of chilli plants, and hold an annual Chilli Fiesta!
During our visit we were well looked after by Gardens Supervisor, Sarah Wain, who very kindly shared her knowledge and expertise with us not just about planting and growing chillies but also on lots of other aspects of gardening, such as how they grow their impressive collection of fruit trees.
As is always the case with filming, we were constrained by time and could only see a small portion of the West Dean gardens, so we vowed to visit again, and the Chilli Fiesta seemed like the perfect time to do that, when the Kitchen Gardens were also in full growth!
If you’re a keen vegetable gardener we can highly recommend a trip to West Dean no matter where you’re based in the UK, the South Downs is a beautiful part of the South of England and there are plenty more places to visit during your stay!
We can also recommend a lovely B&B which is about 30 minutes away from West Dean called ‘Old Dairy Farm‘ at Emsworth – really good quality accommodation run by lovely people!