LETTER: Four-legged pals have always been welcome

I WRITE in response to a letter in last week’s Observer regarding the decision to allow dogs into West Dean Gardens.

We are sorry that Carolyn Mitchell is upset by our decision to allow dogs in the gardens. This is, in fact, not a new policy as dogs have always been welcome in the St Roche’s Arboretum.

There has never been any significant problem either as they walk through the shop to gain entrance or while walking in the parkland, which is usually full of sheep.

Visitors have in the past regularly asked our shop staff if they can bring dogs. Many people take great pleasure from walking their four-legged friends in beautiful outdoor spaces and the previous position discouraged some prospective visitors to West Dean Gardens.

For these reasons, we have confidence in trialing the extended access to allow dogs into our main gardens.

As Carolyn Mitchell points out, there is a stipulation that dogs are kept on a short lead and dog-owners are asked to clear up after their dogs. Discreet signs and bins will be in place around the gardens and a free supply of plastic bags is available in the shop.

Dogs, with the exception of guide dogs, will not be allowed in the Gardens Restaurant and there is a space outside the shop reserved for owners to leave their dogs tied up until their return.

We will be carefully monitoring this new policy and owners with dogs which are causing a nuisance will be politely asked to deal with their dogs, or leave the gardens.

I assure Mrs Mitchell that we have carefully thought through this decision.

However, we will continue to listen to all viewpoints and monitor the situation carefully through the year.

We are very proud of West Dean Gardens, which is a showcase of horticultural variety and quality. We hope that within the 90 acres of gardens and arboretum, all visitors will continue to find the space, peace and inspiration that make our gardens so special.

Peter Pearce

Chief Executive

Edward James Foundation

West Dean Gardens