About The Beth Chatto Gardens

About us

The Beth Chatto Gardens began in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches it has been transformed using plants adapted by nature to thrive in different conditions, an inspirational, informal garden has developed.


The accompanying plant nursery stocks over 2000 plants, all sold by growing conditions. While the light and airy tearoom allow visitors to relax and take in their surroundings over a homemade cake.

The tearoom is also the venue for events and workshops. Held all year round they cover a large range of interests from gardening lectures, painting workshops and craft fairs.

About Beth Chatto

Beth Chatto was born in 1923 to enthusiastic gardening parents. After working as a teacher she married the late Andrew Chatto in 1943. His life long interest in the origins of plants influenced the development of the Gardens and our use of plants to this day.

Following Andrew’s retirement, in 1960 the Chatto family built their new home on a wasteland that had been part of the Chatto fruit farm. The site presented many difficulties for starting a garden including low annual rainfall. It was to Andrew’s plant research that they turned.

Informed by his knowledge Beth selected plants for a series of Gardens that could thrive under the different conditions. Through gifts of seeds and cuttings a large collection of unusual plants and a good knowledge of propagation was acquired. Since the late fifties Beth Chatto had become involved in the Flower Club movement, lecturing, opening new clubs and demonstrating flower arranging. By 1967 the Flower Club members were an enthusiastic audience for unusual plants. Requests for catalogues followed and from a small hand typed sheet a mail order business and plant nursery was born.

In January 1975 “Unusual Plants” exhibited at the RHS Hall, Westminster, winning a Silver Medal and gaining the first press coverage. From 1977 Beth Chatto and her stand of “Unusual Plants” went on to win ten consecutive Gold Medals at RHS Chelsea. Beth Chatto’s first book, The Dry Garden, was published in 1978. Since then she has gone on to publish eight books, has lectured around the world and written articles for magazines, newspapers and the Internet. Beth Chatto still works every day in The Beth Chatto Gardens, guiding her staff and sharing her deep love and profound knowledge of planting.

Born Good Easter, Essex

The Beth Chatto Gardens begins.

The Beth Chatto Gardens nursery begins.

Awarded by the Royal Horticultural Society Ten Gold Medals for ten consecutive exhibits at Chelsea Flower Show.

The Dry Garden is published.

The Damp Garden is published.

Beth Chatto participates in lecture tour of America

Beth Chatto participates in lecture tour of British Columbia, Canada and North West States of America.

Plant Portraits is published.

Beth Chatto lectures in America.

Awarded the Lawrence Memorial Medal,
Awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour,
Awarded Honorary Degree by the University of Essex.
Beth Chatto participates in lecture tours of Holland and Germany.

The Beth Chatto Garden Notebook is published.

Beth Chatto lectures in Canada and Australia.
The Green Tapestry is published.

Beth Chatto lectures in Paris.

Selected to the International Professional and Business Women’s Hall of Fame for outstanding achievements in introducing plant ecology to garden design.

Presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Garden Writer’s Guild.
Dear Friend and Gardener is published with Christopher Lloyd.

Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden is published.

Awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours. Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden is published.

The Damp Garden (new edition) is published.

Retrospective exhibition on career of Beth Chatto held at The Garden Museum, London.

Awarded honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.

The Beth Chatto Gardens celebrates fifty years.

Named a Paul Harris Fellow by Colchester Trinity Rotary Club.

Awarded the Society of Garden Design's John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award.

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