Last week we looked at Beth Chatto’s series of lakes that she created.
This blog looks at her dry gravel garden.
When you visit her garden in Essex the first thing you see is a lovely assortment of Mediterranean looking plants ribboned with gravel paths.
Forty years ago this was just a car park. Then Beth decided to experiment with dry tolerant plants she had seen in her travels so instead of importing vast amounts of top soil she used the pre existing poor soil and stones as the foundation of the planting beds.
In the last 40 years this area of her garden has become world renown as she has not had to water it. In the 70’s in England this was unheard of but with her interest in companion planting and carefully selecting plants that she knew originated from a dry environment she brought garden design and ecology effectively together.
Her book ‘Drought Resistant Gardening’ shows a woman interested in the truth of effective gardening. She kept information on the health of plants and how much maintenance the areas required with a real trial and error scientific rigour.
These days ever garden designer tries to reduce their ecological footprint and go with nature rather then force things to grow where they don’t want to. She was one of the pioneers and just an hour east of London you can see the living manifestation of her insights.