Saturday, 26 July 2014

Beth Chatto's garden


In June I went to visit Beth Chatto's garden near Colchester in Essex. The garden is planted on the principle of the right plant for the right situation and the planting is so clever that after looking at the photos I took again, I see new things I didn't even notice on my visit. It was without doubt one of my top favourite garden and it is so beautifully kept.

The story behind the garden is also very inetersting and I would recommend a look at the website Beth Chatto still lives in the house in the garden.

Part of the garden is an ols gravel carpark. Plants that are suited those condition was planted here and it works so well.
Above is some of the carpark planting; the Verbena venosa in the foreground and the Verbena bonariensis that go though the planting add so much air and together with the Allium they add soft, cool purple colours that compliment the Eryngium.
The spikey Eryngium are complimented by the large variegated Cordyline australis and then at the same time, the Genista aetnensis in the background and the Stipa tenuissima softens the whole thing. Amazing!

Above is more of the gravel garden; Verbena bonarienses, poppies and Verbascum adds light and air.
More Alliums and poppies, I love the creeping Thyme that softens the borders.
Like a jewel, this is Eryngium giganteum 'Mrs. Wilmott's Ghost'. The poppies makes it look so delicate.
A rude Verbascum!

Above is Genista Aetnensis; the Mount Etna Broom. It is a very soft looking tree.

More Eryngium in front of Stipa tenuissima; extreme contrast that work so well.
Now this combination nearly took my breath away; so simple yet so ingenious. Gigantic Gunnera and masses of Alchemilla mollis in front of it. I love both of these plants for their own reasons; Gunnera is just a magnificent structural plant with it's oversized leaves and Alchemilla mollis has several things going for it; the leaves are a lovely green, a nice shape and after rain or watering they hold raindrops on the edges of the leaves and make them look like little jewels.
Together, the shape of the leaves are repeated, they look similar in shape but one is huge and the other small, and to break it up is the sprays of frothy flowers from the Alchemilla.

The gardens have some impressive trees too, the two huge cedars in the back were especially beautiful I thought.
The blue of the Salvia above is outstanding. It is Salvia x sylvestris 'Blauhugel'.
A field full of Phlomis.
Salvia and Erymgium makes a good combination.
The garden has a woodland part. Here are hostas and ferns in many shapes and colours.
The woodland even has a Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant hogweed), despite being a health hazard (this one was too far from the path to be of any danger) it is a magnificent looking plant and it was nice seeing it in a natural habitat doing what nature intended it to do.
Lots of exciting coral sedums.
Gunnera, red hot Astilbe and lovely orange Primula candelabra.
Meeting this tree was one of the highlights for me.  This is a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) it is a deciduous conifer which means that in autumn its needles will turn fiery oranges and red and then it will drop them. Like a Larix but this is no Larix.
This tree, was up until the 1960s only known as a 120 million year old fossil. The a scientist in China discovered it. It is a living dinosaur. And there's one alive and well in Essex.
The Metasequoia's needles are short and the new growth is soft. The bark gets more and more interesting with age.
Metasequoia and Gunnera.
This is Beth Chatto's own collection of Sempervivum. These are not for sale but there is a good plant sale with lots of unusual plants.


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