Beth Chatto's Dry Garden - Poppies
I was away from my garden last week. It is hard to leave in June when all plants are lush, full and show no symptoms of decline. It is a fleeting time in the garden. July often brings dry weather and bugs but June is glorious. It is also the time when garden tours abound and this one took me to Essex, England. I know, I am very lucky. Traveling to other gardens gives knowledge, persepective, enjoyment, angst (my garden does not measure up), and new enthusiasm. The group I traveled with was pure fun. People who love to garden or love to look at gardens. More about this at a later time.
Beth Chatto's Dry Garden - Stipa tenuissima
The highlight of my trip was a visit to the garden of one of my gardening heroines, Beth Chatto. Her book 'Green Tapestry' has been on my shelf and in my hands since it was published in 1989. It has been a long valued gardening resource. I am still trying to absorb her teachings. Her whole premise for gardening is based on ecology.
Beth Chatto's Garden -The Open Walks
The ecology of understanding where plants grow in the world, what type of soil in which they thrive and then placing them in the appropriate setting in her garden. This is common sense. I have thrown it aside on many occasions when plant lust has taken over. Many of us are guilty of this.
Beth Chatto's Garden - vignette
Beth Chatto is a skilled veteran in the garden and, as such, her wisdom and experience which is so evident in the beauty she has created holds much weight. You can read more about Beth Chatto's garden here. East Anglia, where this garden is located, receives about twenty inches of rain per year. It has been dry there this year but this garden, with its crunchy gravel surface, looks divine. Our group entered the garden, as all do, through the dry garden. It is a large area and there are many interesting and unknown plants to enjoy. The path meanders through a level section of the garden. Grasses provide vertical, filmy curtains to entice the visitor through the paths.
Beth Chatto's Dry Garden
David was an interesting and informative guide telling us that 'Beth Chatto "paints the sky as well as the ground' with plants.
The transition from the dry garden to the lower lush garden with the bog, walks, pond and borders takes one down steps under the shade of large trees.
The temperature is cooler and the green lushness a distinct contrast to the burnished copper and bright sun of the gravel garden. As we rounded a corner with our guide, David, there was Beth Chatto giving exacting pruning instructions to one of her gardeners.
He had pruners in hand and was listening intently as was I. David asked if she had time to speak to our group and she graciously gave us a few moments of her wisdom.
She discussed the problems of climate change in her garden and said that in 'the last ten years, there has not been enough ice on the pond to bear a duck'. I am really not embarrassed to say that I angled around behind her so that a friend of mine could get me in the same frame. After all, she is my gardening heroine. What resulted was a series of 'Where's Waldo' shots with Beth Chatto in the foreground with a rather looming, 'out of focus' me in the background.
That is as it should be. I am not quite in focus with my gardens or in life yet but perhaps if I am lucky enough to reach Beth Chatto's age of experience the edges will become more distinct.
Addendum: Added 'Stalking' photos