Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beth Chatto's Garden

In one of the driest areas in England, in one of the driest years ever, we had the great fortune to visit Beth Chatto's garden (author of many titles including:  The Dry Garden and Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden).  We were welcomed by Beth - who is looking marvellous at any age - but spectacularly well for 87.
Beth gave us a brief introduction to the history of her 50-year-old garden and how she learned about the plants that would thrive in this hostile environment.  Aided in her journey by Sir Cedric Morris, painter and gardener, she developed a passion and appreciation for unusual species (rather than cultivars) that were specifically adapted to the conditions in her garden.     

David Ward continued the tour - nothing like a garden where you can stand in the centre of it and not disturb a thing.

I enjoyed seeing the swoop of plants left to their own devices.

A new favourite Ballota.  Haven't done any poking about to see if it is growable here.

This plant is perfectly pet-able.

This isn't what I thought I'd see when I visited an English garden - but all the same, so very beautiful.

Just outside the gate - this is what the countryside looks like, which makes you understand how remarkable the next sections of the garden are - off to the bog!

yellow repeated here and there

and again for good measure:

I've never seen perkier Achemilla.

This gives you a better idea of the swoop and size of the garden beds.

If it was too sunny, you could always take refuge in the woodland.
Or do some damage to your wallet....providing you lived in England and could take the little plants home, sigh.  Because once you saw a pretty little ground cover like this:

You could come here to find it.  Great nursery - things well explained and laid out.

Then, when you'd made your selection, you'd grab some plant tags and a pencil and mark your own tag. 

So what would be my three lessons from this garden?  I think I'll start to look for a few more species plants for my problem areas.  Second, if I'm going to plant any more Astrantia, I'll buy more and plant them together - treating them as a sum to be clumped is so much more effective. 

And third, I'm going to hunt out more seed to see if I can find treasures like the one below. As a note, look how helpful it is to have handwritten notes in the garden telling you about those little bits and pieces that draw the eye.

Oh, and four, I'm going to be like Beth and garden just as long as I possibly can.


Barry said...

Did you hear the squeal of delight where you are..... this is my quintessential all time favourite garden [though I have only read and viewed it through her many books and online] and gardening heroine. Indeed it would have been a thrill to visit, as I was somewhat hoping when I read you'd been to England! The shade gardens..... true heaven on earth one would imagine, and the nursery photos..... Barbara, after a surprise shift of work on a supposed day off, this is a wonderful thrill to return home to. THANK YOU!

Barbarapc said...

Barry, it was the favourite of many of those on the tour. It was my favourite private garden - it reminded me of home - so many of the plants we use, she did as well. She gave us all catalogues so we could i.d. things. What I liked best was how clearly she described things - considering the length of time and the number of times she must have had to explain things - she was so absolutely gracious and precise with her answers. Barry, you would have loved the nursery - we could wander in the fields to see the plants growing. And the potted area had just small selections (by her standards) of things that looked fabulous. It would have made my visit complete to have been able to take something home. However, all is not lost as I've got her Mail Order Plant List, so I'll just hunker down and find my own little treasures.

fairegarden said...

Oh my. Oh my. You not only saw her garden, but met and got to hear her speak! Yes, when we grow up, we want to be just like her. The thought of gravel gardens and then a bog garden in the same space boggles the mind.
ps, I know the agony of seeing plants for sale in Britain and not being able to bring them home! Sniff!

Barbarapc said...

Frances - for me it was like meeting the Queen. A legend, who was every inch of what I'd hoped for.