About Beth Chatto

About Us

Beth Chatto OBE is an award-winning plantswoman. She began the Gardens in 1960. She took an overgrown wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches, transforming it using plants adapted by nature to thrive in different conditions. An inspirational, informal garden has developed. Beth continues to oversee the development of the Gardens, and works closely with her team which include Garden and Nursery Director, David Ward, and Head Gardener Åsa Gregers-Warg. The Gardens remain a family-run business, managed by Beth's granddaughter, Julia Boulton.

About Beth Chatto

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.

About Beth Chatto

Our Story
1923
Beth Born in Good Easter, Essex
1943
Beth Married Andrew Chatto
1960
The Beth Chatto Gardens begins
1967
The Beth Chatto Gardens nursery begins
1977-87
Awarded by the Royal Horticultural Society Ten Gold Medals for ten consecutive exhibits at Chelsea Flower Show
1978
The Dry Garden is published
1982
The Damp Garden is published
1983
Beth participates in a lecture tour of America
1984
Beth participates in a lecture tour of British Columbia, Canada and North West States of America
1985
Plant Portraits is published
1986
Beth lectures in America
1987
Awarded the Lawrence Memorial Medal Awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour, Awarded Honorary Degree by the University of Essex. Beth participates in lecture tours of Holland and Germany
1988
The Beth Chatto Garden Notebook is published
1989
Beth lectures in Canada and Australia. The Green Tapestry is published
1990
Beth lectures in Paris
1992
The Gravel Garden was planted
1995
Selected to the International Professional and Business Women’s Hall of Fame for outstanding achievements in introducing plant ecology to garden design
1998
Presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Garden Writer’s Guild. Dear Friend and Gardener is published with Christopher Lloyd
2000
Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden is published
2002
Awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours. Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden is published
2004
The Damp Garden (new edition) is published
2008
Retrospective exhibition on career of Beth Chatto held at The Garden Museum, London
2009
Awarded honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University
2010
The Beth Chatto Gardens celebrates fifty years
2011
Named a Paul Harris Fellow by Colchester Trinity Rotary Club
2014
Awarded the Society of Garden Design's John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award
2015
The Beth Chatto Education Trust Charity launched
Tearoom
Nursery
Gardens