Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beth Chatto's Patio

Pots on the patio at White Barn House,
Beth Chatto Garden and Nursery, Elmstead Market, UK.

I have been re-reading the garden books by Beth Chatto for some change of season inspiration.There is a bit of a chill in the air in the early morning and late afternoon and I noticed today some Freesias were poking their green shoots through the soil. In the meantime there will be more hot days to come if the forecast for this weekend is anything to go by, as the mercury is set to go over 30C again. As soon as the cool weather starts I want the heat again....
Beth Chatto was way ahead of her time when her book The Dry Garden was published in 1978. Now the term 'water-wise' has become part of our language and 'dry spell gardening' is something we are likely to face again in the coming years despite a reprieve after good summer rain. In The Dry Garden, which incidentally only has black and white photos, she gives a description of this group of pots and explains how she gained inspiration from seeing the colourful courtyards of France and Spain. This delightful combination of terracotta pots have been planted with ivy-leaved geraniums, daisies, succulents, agave and silver foliage plants Helichrysum petiolare and Centaurea. She writes 'By tucking in a plant or two of Helichrysum petiolare you can have a flamboyant display in no time at all, as this lovely foliage plant grows with great speed, not forsaking elegance, so that by August your tubs will be hidden beneath its silvered stems through which thread themselves your ivy-leafed geraniums.' She goes on to describe her cacti and succulents as being of ' subtle colours and varied textures ....some may be smooth as marble, in tones of blue, bronze, green or grey....and of all shapes and sizes, some making tall columnar pillars wreathed in silky hair and others rosettes the size of a wine tray.'


  1. It's a beautiful grouping of colours and textures. 'Waterwise' and 'dry spell' gardening is our everydaylife as gardeners in my area of the world ... and I'm still learning!

  2. Very inspiring. My patio garden is more practical that pretty right now, but it is still early days!