Garden News

The Beth Chatto Symposium

The Beth Chatto Symposium

Ecological Planting in the 21stCentury


What was the Symposium?


On 30th-31stAugust 2018 the Beth Chatto Education Trust (the charity set up by Beth to carry forward her passion for plants and ecological approach to all) hosted a special gathering of gardeners, designers and plantspeople from all over the world in honour of Beth Chatto. 

Speakers and panelists generously shared their expertise and insights in a mixture of lectures and moderated discussion panels, with over 500 attendees.

The focus was ecology in planting design: creating landscapes and gardens to be enjoyed, whilst embracing ecology and our ever-changing environment.

They have reminded us that we are not alone in doing the hard work of observing plants and nature, and trying to make gardens that speak to human need and ecological concern. The range of opinions and expertise reinforced the idea that there is no one way to pursue ideas of ecology in planting design, but many ways to reconsider decision-making in our day to day work. 

Our aim was to generate conversation and connections that will build upon Beth's life’s work and contribute to ongoing developments in ecological horticulture. 

 We'd like to thank all of the speakers, panellists and over 500 attendees who travelled from 26 different countries to be with us for these special few days. The warmth and generosity all brought to the gathering will be felt long afterwards. 


Our horticultural champions 


Our speakers, modern day champions of ecological planting in both design and practice, are working to further advance and expand our horticultural knowledge in order to create an environment that focuses on ecology and sustainability.

As we restock the nursery and return to the daily rhythms of work in the garden and propagation, we are buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm shared at the event. It was the most wonderful celebration of Beth’s life’s work.

We hope that in the days, weeks and years to come, the memories of this event, and the community that has formed around it, help spread the word about the importance of ecological planting to all. We, along with these horticultural super heroes, will carry on observations and experimentation, to introduce new plants, and to embrace a changing aesthetic. 


Recordings available


We have recorded the lectures and panel discussions which took place. These will be made freely available in the weeks to come. If you were unable to attend, but would like to be notified when the recordings are available, please sign up for our mailing list
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Marina Christopher, owner of Phoenix Perennial Plants, Hampshire, a nursery growing hardy and unusual plants that are beneficial to pollinators. Marina grows many plants from seed for the designers at Chelsea Flower Show

Olivier Filippi runs a specialist nursery together with his wife, in southern France, dedicated to drought tolerant plants . Having frequently travelled to dry regions around the globe has given him a high level of expertise in the field, when it comes to creating sustainable gardens in dry climates.

James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield.His work centres around developing novel approaches to public planting design in a time of climate change, sustainability and biodiversity. He is also a patron of the Beth Chatto Education Trust. 

Peter Janke is a garden designer, nurseryman and florist, known for his naturalistic style with formal elements. Ecological concerns are a key part of his work as a designer and influences his plant lists at his nursery Hortvs, Germany.

Taylor Johnston, American gardener, designer and nurserywoman, acted as our moderator for all four discussion panels during the Symposium. 

Peter Korn is a noted plantsman based at Klinta Trädgård, Sweden, known for his use of sand as planting substrate. He lectures, works as a horticultural consultant and designs for both private and public spaces, using nature as the greatest source of inspiration.

Dan Pearson, award-winning landscape and garden designer with projects ranging from private gardens to large public projects like the Tokachi Millennium Forest in Japan, Dan creates emotionally resonant, naturalistic spaces that are known for their sensitive planting. Dan is also a patron of the Beth Chatto Education Trust. 

Andi Pettis, Director of Horticulture at the High Line in Manhattan, New York. The highline is an elevated railway line that has been converted into a highly successful park visited by millions each year. 

Cassian Schmidt, director of Hermannshof garden in Germany. His work revolves around using natural plant communities as models for sustainable plant combinations in urban environments and private gardens.

Midori Shintani, Head Gardener of Tokachi Millennium Forest, Japan. For the last 10 years Midori has guided the gardens of the Millennium Forest, merging Japanese horticulture into wild nature. 

Keith Wiley, former Head Gardener at the Garden House, has evolved a style of gardening which takes inspiration from nature. His garden Wildside, Devon, makes a wonderful example of how the natural landscape can be used as inspiration and be translated into a naturalistic planting scheme.

The Beth Chatto Symposium

Comments (1)

I was thrilled to attend the Symposium and found the knowledge, generosity, enthusiasm, hard work and creativity of the speakers so inspiring and moving.
The whole thing was brilliantly run and the evening event was an absolute priviledge. Well done to everyone at Beth Chatto for all their hard work in making the Symposium such a memorable event...and the hard work continues with the editing of the recordings I'm sure. I will always be thankful to be a member of the horticultural 'cult'.
sarah davis | 14/09/2018
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