Thursday 22 May 2014

The Beth Chatto Garden and Hyde Hall

Your eyes do not deceive you, I am posting about a non Chelsea Flower Show thing during Chelsea week! However I am very excited to be going to Chelsea later today to help out on the NGS stand....there can be lots of perks to being a volunteer!

What I am writing about is my trip last Sunday to Beth Chatto’s garden and RHS Hyde Hall, somewhere I have wanted to go to forever. Beth Chatto is quite a famous plantslady, and where I think most people know her from is her famous dry garden, a gravel garden which she does not water. At the time this was all quite revolutionary, a new idea of just working with plants that are naturally suited to the type of conditions that you have locally rather than an overly irrigated and fertilized artificial paradise of rectangular stripped lawns and rows of red salvias and marigolds. Working with nature rather than against her.

Since then this idea has of course blossomed and also evolved into things such as the naturalistic planting schemes we have today, however it was exciting to go on a big trip out of the city with Peter and Sam to see it for ourselves.

On the way was Hyde Hall, which seemed rude to not visit, especially as the traffic was miserable and as an RHS member I get in free. I hadn’t been before, and left with mixed feelings.  It is a strange place, full of the RHS visitor services professionalism (huge cafe, all very easy) but sits in the middle of fields. It still feels very young, and not quite yet coherent as an entity. Things seemed a bit disjointed, and patchy...however there is lots of space for expansion and I think the garden may grow into its self.

They also had a great dry garden

Beth Chattos was completely the opposite and I *loved* it and would thoroughly recommend a visit.  Built around her modest home (no Great Dixtor Tudor Manor houses here!) the coherent garden feels like a well loved space which has developed over time to be a beautiful and well laid out garden which I could happily live in.

You start with the dry garden (which you don’t need a ticket to visit)

Then there is the cafe (mmmm, more cake vicar) and a huge well laid out nursery full of very high quality plants.

The garden its self first leads to the ponds, jealousy abounded for these lush waterways
It was then island beds a go go

Before the woodland garden which I think was probably the best I have seen. Usually woodland gardens are sparcely planted, however here  the planting was relatively dense with loads of things I hadn’t seen before.

mmm Veratrums

There were lots of climbers up trees which made for a very exotic effect

I needed to wander round a couple of times to take it in properly, so left Peter to wander off to the nursery as I felt I didn’t need any plants. How wrong was I! When I went round the nursery there were loads of unusual things that interested me and I needed a trolly!

My haul...I ended up buying
Raoulia tenuicaulis: an amazing very flat groundcover plant
Iris sibirirca ‘blue bungee’
Ferula Communis: Giant Fennel which I have been trying unsuccessfully to grow from seed!
Asphodeline liburnica
Euphorbia cornigena wallichii

Eryngium eburneum

Other things that caught my eye through the day


  1. So near and yet so far, we haven't been to any of the two, we ought to really. Nice haul!

  2. Great photos, I (almost) feel like I was there with you. Hopefully I will get to visit someday!