Sep 15, 2010

The Ebb & Flow: Beth Chatto Garden

Ebb and Flow
I immediately felt at home in Beth Chatto's garden. My garden in Vermont and the Chatto garden have something in common: they both depend on structure and texture more than floral display.  In my own garden and the Chatto garden,  you walk around curvy paths and discover the garden as you go. I realized that so many of the ideas in my own garden owe a debt to Chatto's experiments and plantings. 

Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener, Great Dixter
"I am one of the many who is privileged to have been touched by the hand of Beth Chatto.  She has influenced me like she has influenced many others.  Gardeners from all over the world have taken her lead for the right plant right place, and have had our eyes opened to texture, shape, and form.  From the largest details to the finest minutiae she has made us look, see, and understand."

Penelope Hobhouse
"Forty years on, thanks to Beth, we study plant needs and the conditions of their native habitat before we try to arrange them.  A garden is 'good' if the planting schemes are suitable, and this is far more important than ephemeral associations based only on 'looks'.

Roy Lancaster
"50 years of seeing, thinking, listening, learning, dreaming, doing, selecting, planting, sowing, growing, digging, splitting potting, pruning, tying, trying, changing, arranging, showing, sharing, travelling, teaching, talking, writing, watching, inspiring, getting it wrong, getting it right, surprises, and regrets, triumphs, graft, colleagues, friends, loved ones past and present, morning, noon and night, no matter what the weather, birds, bees and butterflies, furry friend and foe, scents and aromas, laughter, tears and dramas of a life well spent.  Such is your garden."

The gravel garden was my favorite.  Not only because it looks to the future, but because it's a four season garden.  Previously the car park, the gravel garden is an ongoing experiment.  Although in her nineties, Chatto continues to push the envelope.
"... it seems obvious that many of us will have to abandon some of the plants we have cherished in the past, to learn to plant and rely on plants which have become adapted by nature to drought conditions!"
Beth Chatto

As those four Englishmen said, all you need is love, especially to make a garden.

All photos copyright Phyllis Odessey.  No usage without permission.