Thirty years after Beth Chatto first created her now famous gardens, The Green Tapestry was published, in which Beth took her readers on a conducted tour of her gardens while explaining her planting choices and experiences in making a garden with perennial plants. Now, a further thirty years on, although Beth is no longer with us, the gardens continue to demonstrate her ethos of sustainable planting, which, with climate change an ever more pressing issue, could not be more relevant today.
In Beth Chatto’s Green Tapestry Revisited, David Ward and Asa Gregers-Warg, who worked alongside Beth for many years and still work at the gardens today, have updated her guide to her gardens, adding new text where areas of the garden have been substantially remodelled and replanted since the first edition, in particular the Gravel Garden, the Woodland Garden and the Reservoir Garden, with an updated directory of Beth’s favourite perennial plants.
Beth’s gardens at Elmstead Market were, in many ways, ahead of their time. Beth’s knowledge as a plantswoman, derived in part from her husband Andrew’s research into plants in their natural habitats, also came from her own extensive practical experience. She set out to garden using only those plants that thrived in the available conditions – damp or dry, sun or shade. It was her talent for observation, her enthusiasm for learning, and her never-ending interest in the foliage, form and texture of her preferred perennials, as much as in their flower colour, that made her a unique voice in British gardening.
Illustrated with specially commissioned photography by Steven Wooster, who was Beth’s preferred photographer of her gardens, this new edition is a timely tribute to Beth’s work. Julia Boulton, Beth’s granddaughter and the CEO of Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens, hopes that it will inspire a new generation of gardeners to plant in tune with nature and create their own exquisite ‘green tapestry’ of perennial plants suited to their own conditions. — que