West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, are steeped in history – they date back to 1622 and were first opened to the public in 1871.

Many of the trees on site date back to those times or earlier but a visit is very much a modern experience!

On arrival you are greeted by friendly staff in the reception/gift shop who provide a map and advice on how best to enjoy the greenhouses and grounds.

There’s a lot to see and unless you spend all day there you’re unlikely to see everything – so have a good think about where to go and also about a return visit!


The well-kept Victorian Glasshouses are fascinating and well presented with fruits, exotic plants and beautiful orchids among the treasures to be found. There’s a special greenhouse for peaches and nectarines which look delicious – but it’s strictly a case of look and don’t touch here.

The map gives you details of a long, peaceful walk around the grounds taking in a sunken garden, stage area where shows are put on during the summer months, tree sculptures and much more. Dogs are welcome on a short lead.

As well as the history and the landscaping though, it’s the abundance of stunning bloooms which make a summer visit a must.


There’s also a very well stocked restaurant and tea shop with an outside seating area, perfect to wind down before heading home.

And there’s a mini garden centre outside with plants and herbs for sale – we went home with rosemary, mint and basil for our own little kitchen garden.

Entry is reasonable at £13.20 (including Gift Aid) during peak months and £8.25 during quieter periods. However if you live relatively nearby a membership at £36 is good value – once you’ve been, you’ll want to return!

W: West Dean Gardens