Unfortunately, prior to the house being occupied by Mr & Mrs Gwyn and their family in 1975, very little is known about the house apart from a handful of black and white photographs Circa 1930 which show a few tantalising shots of the garden and house during that period. Should anyone have any information at all that is pertinent to Dean House and its Gardens, we would be very interested to speak with you and discuss its content.
In 1985 Bill Davies was engaged as Head Gardener: The post, at that time ,was maintenance based with a great deal more lawn. He also grew vegetables and plants for the house; Although the garden was largely undeveloped. He was assisted in his task, part time, by Mr Harry Forbes the de facto caretaker and old retainer of the gardens; Former worker at Dean Farm, who was at that time, already in his seventies.
In 1992/3 Mr & Mrs Gwyn made the decision to develop the garden and engaged the garden designers Colvin and Moggeridge of Filkins Lechlade and in particular Mr Chris Carter. There had been various minor dabblings in the garden over the years, in a vague attempt to lift it above the ordinary.
After extensive talks with the Gwyn family, plans were drawn up to establish a Rose Garden and Tunnel on the eastern side of the garden, with three long herbaceous borders and three south facing Hotbeds adjacent to the glasshouses. The work was supervised by Bill Davies and laid out by Bill Davies and Julian Blackwell assisted by hard landscapers. Later in that year Kate Matthews was employed, on a temporary basis, whilst the labour intensified and she remains with us to this day as a vital part of the horticultural team.
In 1994 Mrs Victoria Wakefield of Bramdean House made a present on Philip Gwyn's 50th Birthday, of a proposed planting scheme for the south facing Pond Garden. It was a symmetrical design of four Buxus beds, each with a standard Rosa 'Ballerina', Nepeta 'Six hills giant', Centranthus ruber and Ruta Graveolens ' Jackman's Blue'. This was set out by Julian Blackwell, assisted by hard Landscapers, who lifted and relayed all the stone paths and importing new soil, before planting.
The front section of the hedged area originally formed a small knot garden of Santolina and Teucrium, but as the hedges grew the allocated area became too small and has been replanted. In late 2012 the Buxus hedges became seriously infected with 'Box Blight' and the decision was made to remove them all. Under a new scheme proposed by Julian Blackwell the Buxus was replaced with Ilex crenata 'convexa' at wider intervals, to grow as individual plants, with Ilex meservae 'Blue Prince' on the five corners of each bed. The west border has been replanted using standard and triangular Ilex underplanted with Geranium, grasses, Sedum and Kniphofia. Plans are afoot to replant the eastern border shortly.
In 1986 Julian Blackwell was engaged in the role of Handyman/Undergardener and spent the next four years on day release and evening, studying three levels of City & Guilds and the Master of Horticulture. In 1994 he took sole charge of the Glasshouses and was responsible for all propagation and production of display plants for the house. The Glasshouses were cleaned, painted, new benches constructed and pests brought under control. A third glasshouse facing north was also constructed. In 1997 he was made Head Gardener/Manager with sole charge of the garden and responsibility for the running the day to day affairs of Dean House maintenance, security and its environs.
Over the next ten years, aided by Bill Davies & Kate Matthews he designed and planted the Walled Garden, the Stable Cottage garden, the Front Borders, the Grass Border, the Fern Bed, the Kidney beds the Upper Pond Garden including the planting and shaping the eccentric Buxus hedge to echo its larger cousin, replanted much of the Colvin & Moggeridge Hot Beds and Herb Beds and some of the Long Borders and Rose Garden underplanting; Added all the arches and boxing on the hedges, along with designing and erecting all the metalwork and spires; Selected and planted over 120 trees around the lawns and peripheries, including a circle of 10 Hawthorns, each of a different specie or cultivar, added many shrubs, hundreds of perennials and a variety of seats and seating areas around the garden; Constructed the plant database, which documents nearly 2000 different species and cultivar and their position in the garden, along with a website to relay information to the general public and commissioned a painting of the garden and copied it electronically to use as a garden map for the website and leaflets.
In 2010 the garden received its silver trowel from the NGS for its tenth consecutive year of opening and has raised more money, for the NGS, than any other garden in Hampshire several years in succession with the sum of £10,600 raised in 2013 breaking all NGS records for Hampshire.