Learn the art of no-dig gardening

From a new bug hotel in the walled garden to a new online garden course, West Dean Gardens and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are offering inspiration to get gardening this spring.

Charles Dowding
Charles Dowding

The award-winning gardens have just unveiled an enormous bug hotel, measuring 4.5 cubic metres.

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The gardens team have been hard at work creating it with items that have been recycled from elsewhere in the gardens, such as large logs and old pallets, which form the core, and chicken wire to ensure it all stays in place. It’s made from logs, bamboo, conifer cones, bricks and rubble, metal pipes and bird nesting boxes with herbs planted on the top. There are also cavities at the base for hedgehogs to enjoy. As head gardener Tom Brown explains: “The hope is to encourage pollinators and predators who will help control a range of orchard pests, like aphids, who will then be controlled with a healthy blue tit population in an environmentally sustainable way.”

For those keen to learn to grow their own vegetables, West Dean Gardens are offering a new live online course with Charles Dowding – Easier ways to growing a vegetable and fruit garden on Friday, February 20, between 2pm-5.30pm.The course will reveal Charles’ time-saving, no-dig style of gardening. Costing £50 and suitable for all, Charles will discuss how to make compost, clear weeds and sowing at the best time. He will also share details and tips about propagation, growing salad leaves all year round and succession planting to achieve bigger and better fruit and vegetable harvests.

The session will be delivered by Zoom and comprises two lectures, a break and two Q&A sessions hosted by garden designer, lecturer and writer Annie Guilfoyle. Charles Dowding has practised no dig for nearly 40 years. Book at www.westdean.org.uk