Top gardening award for green-fingered Jim at West Dean Gardens

Jim Buckland from West Dean, who has been given an RHS Award
Jim Buckland from West Dean, who has been given an RHS Award
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A man who has led the transformation of West Dean Gardens over the last 21 years is to receive a prestigious Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) award.

Jim Buckland, who arrived at the gardens in 1991, has worked with an army of gardeners and volunteers to ensure the bold re-development of the 90 acres of grounds.

Their aim was to bring the 19th- century gardens into the 21st century.

This huge undertaking has been acknowledged by the RHS 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.

Mr Buckland said: “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 hard-working 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.”

Mr Buckland is an honours graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Before joining West Dean Gardens with his wife, gardens supervisor, in 1987 he had already had a career encompassing the management of historic and public gardens in both UK and Australia.

They began the transformation of the garden after finding it had been devastated by neglect and by the tragic storms of that year.

Eoin Redahan of RHS said: “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.

“The work Jim has achieved, particularly in the Walled Gardens and Victorian Glasshouses (pictured right), is exemplary.”