The late Beth Chatto
Beth leaves a great legacy for us all to enjoy, says Peter
THOSE of us fortunate enough to have spent time with Beth Chatto, and the millions who have enjoyed visiting her garden in person and through the medium of television, mourn her death aged 94 last month. What a remarkable lady, one of the founders of Colchester Flower Club, the second to be formed in England, and a true artist when it came to handling plants and flowers.
When visiting the Beth Chatto Elmstead Market Garden in Essex, via the dry garden and looking down from beneath a great oak tree to the running stream, it is like entering a cathedral and has all the spiritual uplifting of such places. Those stately trees and the knowledge this garden was sculpted from a veritable wilderness makes every visit a memorable occasion.
I treasure the occasions sitting with her on the house terrace, looking out over this spectacle and enjoying the planting skills of a master gardener. Cultivating plants under the shade and root invasion of large trees in heavy soils, some of which is waterlogged,
“Her garden was sculpted from a wilderness ”
is, to say the least, a challenge.
The guiding principle ‘right plant, right place’ is the mantra here, and was the theme in Beth’s consecutive Gold Medal-winning displays at the Chelsea Flower Show, where she demonstrated which plants to use in dry shade and those suited to wet places. Home owners facing the challenge of difficult soils and sites will continue to be guided by the garden plantings, now in the hands of her granddaughter, and by Beth’s beautifully written books.
Growing in my garden is a gifted clump of snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii ‘Cedric’s Prolific’, which carries the Beth Chatto Gardens Ltd label. An elegant flower with style, and the perfect reminder of an elegant lady with style.
Beth Chatto: “An elegant lady with style” The guiding principle ‘right plant, right place’ was Beth’s mantra