Sunday, 8 March 2009

Beth Chatto Garden

Last Saturday marked the beginning of my garden adventures for the year. it was my Mum's birthday so I took her to Beth Chatto's garden just outside of Colchester in Essex.

As with so many of the gardens that I have visited I did not know vert much about the garden before I arrived, although my Mum has been suggesting we go for some time now.

The garden began life in 1960 as part of Beth Chattos family garden. It was this garden that prompted Beth Chatto to begin to write books about gardening in difficult areas of the garden.

As well as the garden there is an extensive nursery where you can buy many of the plants that are featuered in the garden. I came away with a lovely Iris called "George"

The garden itself feels like a real garden. Some of the gardens that I have visited feel very manicured and unachievable. Whilst being a large garden it did not feel overwhelmingly tidy. Plants had been pruned and tidied, but fallen leaves have been left as well as empty pots waiting to be planted up.

I liked the way that the garden was divided up into different areas by the type of growing conditions. As you enter the garden from the car park you find yourself in the dry garden. It is an experimental area that is not watered to see how plants cope and ultimately so that the nursery can sell plants that work well in drought conditions. Wishful thinking of a gloriously hot summer for this year and the accompanying hose pipes bans.

We think we may have spied Beth Chatto at one of the windows as she lives in the house. I am not sure that I would like to have 100's of visitors wandering through my garden everyday, but then if I had such a lovely garden I may not mind showing it off.

The planting felt very natural, particularly in the woodland areas. It gave the garden the feel that it had all just grown up of its own accord. With closer inspection however you can see the work that has been put into the garden.

To finish our visit we popped into the tea rooms and had a delicious piece of cake and cup of tea. I really enjoyed visiting the garden but it has left me wanting to know more about Beth Chatto and her techniques of planting and I also want to visit the garden again when more things are in bloom. Another trip later in the year then...