The late Beth Chatto

Beth leaves a great legacy for us all to en­joy, says Peter

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

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

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