Saturday, 11 August 2012

inspiration at beth chatto's garden

A good drive down to Essex to make a long-awaited visit to Beth Chatto's garden near Colchester. And what inspiration we found..

The garden lies in the driest corner of our country and so we were especially interested in the way that Beth Chatto had resolved the problem of gardening in drought. This is especially relevant for us, since our garden will need to cope with the sandy Nottinghamshire soils in the dry east of England.

Her gravelled garden was superb: quite flat, she used structural plants to give height showing how gorgeous Stipa gigantea, Althea cannabina and Shumach tree can be used effectively.

I hadn't seen Alium sphaerocephalon used before and wished I'd bought one at the excellent nursery attached to the garden. Linda did and I'll try and pinch it from her when she's dealing with her next bee swarm.

Bergenias and different marjoram cultivars edged beds while groups of agapanthus 'Midnight Star' and  Anthemis 'EC Buxton' provided bursts of colour.

Superb - but reassuringly 'do-able'.

The gardens include beautiful woodland settings. Always looking to pinch the ideas of brilliant gardeners, Jill is now committed to planting a Hydrangea petiolaris up a huge sycamore that faces north at Cordwood. There were a number of striking persicaria varieties to for us and bees to admire. I bought a 'Red Dragon' cultivar home with me - burgundy foliage with contrasting white flowers.

We have struggled to keep on top of the insurgent weeds this year. In the mature Beth Chatto garden, effective use was made of ground cover plants, smothering weeds and giving so much interest in the garden, from the tops of the trees to the ground.  Hosta 'Halcyon', Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' and tiny Gunnera prorepens pushed their names forward on the never-ending list of plants we hope to grow.

It was great to find such a well-stocked nursery selling good plants at reasonable prices. We indulged = successful visit!

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