The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex are internationally acclaimed and highly regarded for their drought tolerant gravel gardens, yet there is far more to these gardens for the visitor to enjoy. What better way to spend a summer’s day than to pay a visit and see for ourselves.

The fundamental principle of the Beth Chatto Gardens is selecting the right plant for the right place; plants are carefully selected that will thrive in the specific conditions of the site and the different drought, water and woodland situations.

One of the first parts of the gardens seen by the visitor are the dry gravel gardens. Plants here are native of sunny and arid parts of the world and have evolved to thrive in such climates.

Here we see the spikes and architectural forms of Ernygiums in the foreground of the picture and an Agave taking centre stage at the back.

Moving into the gardens the visitor is greeted by a series of beautifully created and maintained ponds, populated with water plants and  fringed by broad leaved marginals. The Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) seen below at the front edge of the pond is a wonderful architectural plant for pond margins due to its large glossy leaves and serene white flowers.

The great skill and delight of these gardens for visitors is the seamless transition between different garden areas due to judicious repetition of plants throughout, such as hostas, ferns and grasses.

A constant delight can be found in the pleasing combinations of plant forms and textures with the odd splash of colour, provided in this border by the white spires of the foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea ‘Albiflora’).

At the far end of the gardens the visitor finds a large natural lake at one end, providing a beautiful natural boundary for the property.

An enticing view of the lake can be glimpsed behind an attractive screen of grasses and bamboos.

Here we see further seemingly random but interesting combinations of plant forms and colours.

For more information about the Beth Chatto Gardens visit www.bethchatto.co.uk.

Photography: copyright Garden Design Eye

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