Trainee scheme will be part of Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain's West Dean Gardens legacy

Before West Dean’s head gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain retire at the end of March, there will be a special fundraising dinner towards a training scheme they will leave behind.

Jim Buckland & Sarah Wain (c) Andrea Jones

An Evening with Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain will be in the Old Library, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation on Tuesday, March 5 (between 7-10pm).

Spokeswoman Rachel Aked said: “Tickets are now on sale to join Jim and Sarah as they talk about a life’s work at West Dean Gardens and their plans for retirement. This special event also includes the opportunity to dine in one of the State rooms at West Dean and the cost will include a donation to the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist Fund, as well as champagne and canapés, two-course spring-themed menu with wine and an after-dinner talk by Jim and Sarah.

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“Tickets to the event cost £100 which comprises £30 for your ticket and a £70 gift-aidable donation to the Trainee Horticulturalist Fund: equivalent to one day’s salary for the trainee.

“For more information on the evening and to book a place please visit or call 01243 818 284.”

Rachel explained: “West Dean Gardens is establishing a fund and seeking donations to establish a trainee horticulturalist post in honour of the legacy that head gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have left in the gardens; to give someone at the start of their career, the chance they need to work towards managing a garden like West Dean. Jim and Sarah have spent the last 28 years revitalising the magnificent landscape and making West Dean Gardens one of the greatest restored gardens in the UK. They will retire in spring 2019.”

Sarah said: “Large gardens want people to come with experience, but it’s so difficult to gain experience in the first place. It’s a catch 22. We want to set up a fund to help a person right at the beginning of their horticultural journey so they can one day manage large gardens like West Dean.”

Through a complete annual cycle, the trainee will work with the West Dean team, learning about every aspect of the gardens and gaining practical experience that will act as a springboard for their career. They will be eligible to apply to the most prestigious horticultural training programmes in the country, including the RHS Diploma or Kew apprenticeship scheme; without this experience, they may not be considered.

West Dean’s aim is to secure enough money to fund the first three years of this programme, which equates to £70 a day. The cost to deliver the trainee horticulturalist post next year is £17,400 which covers their salary, membership of the Professional Gardeners’ Guild and health and safety.