The key to success with all plants is understanding their origins, helping you to realise their preferred growing conditions and specific requirements. Tulips grow wild high up in the mountains and valleys of Europe and Central Asia, indicating they are adapted to growing in free-draining, rocky soils in extreme conditions. Summers here are long, hot and dry, with cold winters bringing heavy rainfall.
The rainfall at Beth Chatto's has been measured continuously since 1953. Initially, it was recorded as a practical tool for the Chatto fruit farm monitoring how much rainfall the trees were receiving.
Over time, some autumn bulbs multiply and create drifts; they naturalise, flowering en masse through grass, under trees, in gravel or through ground cover plants.
It was the first time I really felt like planting this weekend... beautiful spring sunshine and the garden was calling out for attention! If you'd like some guidance on early spring plants, here are Jake's top 10 favourite plants for this time of year.
Using seedheads to create winter interest is something we've always done at the Gardens, and it can benefit wildlife too. These plants create some beautifully frosty sillhouettes and are well worth leaving in place over winter for their architectural value.
Spring is the time for shade loving plants to come to the fore. In the woodland garden light levels are increasing, the soil is warming, plants are bursting forth. Every colour is reperesented, including a myriad green shades. Magic is in the air.....
Elephant’s ears, bergenia are one of the most indispensable and widely used evergreen plants here. Unfortunately, the genus does suffer from the fact that many people consider them untidy, rather boring and a perfect home for slugs and snails.
Very often seen in large sprawling mats of creeping rhizomes and fitting of this such bad press perfectly is...
Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival- plants used in our show garden.
The impact of the summer heatwave on our plants and gardens; our head gardener Åsa Gregers-Warg explains what we're doing to mitigate the effects here in the driest part of the UK, and the Gravel Garden plants (never irrigated) which are still doing well.
Planting in summer may well be more hard work than at other times of the year, but providing it’s done properly, you should find you’ve set your plants up for life. Beth and her husband, Andrew, embraced the conditions that were given to them here in Essex and made the decision to work with what they had, rather than trying to fight against it.
For a lot of people a constantly damp or boggy soil is potentially a problem, but that needn’t be the case. There are many plants that will survive and indeed thrive in such conditions. I feel these plants should be considered for your own garden if you have a wet or damp soil.
Having spent the first few days of June jumping in and out of the ponds here at The Beth Chatto Gardens, catching up with some long overdue maintenance, I suddenly remembered I was due to write a piece on this very subject! I was also reminded that attempting to walk backwards wearing waders with my feet stuck in the underlying mud and clay is somewhat foolhardy...
The Gravel Garden simply wouldn’t be the same without alliums. A fabulous bulb for anyone creating their own drought-resistant garden. They are dramatic, decorative and best of all, easy to grow. They can add so much to the look of a border with their spherical heads. Just make sure you can give them a free-draining, light soil with plenty of sunshine, and you will be guaranteed success.
After a winter of compaction April is a good time to consider aerating your lawn. We use a 1.8m wide verti-drainer which is in effect 6 large forks mounted on the back of our lawn tractor. The lawns here were created over the existing soil and as such, there is not a dedicated drainage system to relieve wet areas. We have over the years added drains to help this situation.
We have ornamental grasses growing in every area of the garden, and it’s possible to find one suitable for every type of condition, from shade to sun, damp loving to drought tolerant.
Here at Beth Chatto, we tend to use them as single specimens so that their full shape and habit can be appreciated, something that is often lost in mass plantings.
In the last two years, timing when to trim grasses has been the trickiest issue, because the winters have been so mild...
A welcome sight in late winter and early spring, the hellebore provides a feast for the eye. Christmas rose or Lenten rose as they are commonly known come in hundreds of different varieties and providing you have a part-shaded or fully shaded spot with a humus rich soil and good drainage, then growing hellebores is easy.
Although autumn is the best time to buy and plant spring-flowering dry bulbs, from the usual such as daffodils, tulips, crocus to the less common and slightly trickier to establish woodlanders such as trilliums and wood anemones. it’s not the ideal time for deciding exactly where to place them...
By many regarded as somewhat of a transition between the Water Garden and the Woodland Garden, the area was predominantly planted with low maintenance trees and shrubs, interspersed with a few herbaceous perennials and grasses.