Category Archives: Plant Combinations

The Beth Chatto Gardens – Instant Releaf!

The Beth Chatto Gardens - Instant Releaf!

One of the greats of British gardening, Beth Chatto OBE has entered the realm of national treasuredom. Plants-woman, designer, author, 10-time gold-medal winner at Chelsea, holder of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour and, of course, the owner of the celebrated Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market, near Colchester, in Essex – her horticultural skills seem boundless. With the concept of “right plant, right place” – in other words, put a plant in conditions close to its natural habitat and it will thrive without help – running as a thread throughout her career, she has inspired a generation of gardeners to take their lead from nature.

The garden has been the inspiration for many of her influential books, including The Dry Garden (1978), The Damp Garden (1992) and Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden (2000). It was created on land that was previously part of a fruit farm, owned by her late husband, Andrew, 14 years her senior, whom she married in 1943. “We met during the war,” she says. “I was a schoolgirl of about 17, considering going to college.”

A scholarly man, who died in 1999 after suffering from emphysema for 25 years, Andrew devoted much of his life to research into plant habitats. Chatto says it was he who inspired her interest in gardening and refers to him frequently, modestly deferring to his superior knowledge. “He’s such an important influence in my life,” she says. “My parents were keen, but they had a conventional garden, using mostly cultivars.”

The couple lived initially in his parents’ in Colchester, but in the late 1950s moved to a modernist house they’d built on the edge of the farm – where Chatto still lives today. Even inside, the garden is a constant presence. Large windows frame views and vignettes of the planting on every side and invite a tapestry of textures, colours and shapes into the house.

Chatto credits her husband almost entirely for her success. “My two daughters were teenagers before I began to think about making a business,” she says. “Andrew had looked after us and given me the security and freedom to experiment.” Her husband’s failing health and the trials of running a fruit farm concentrated her mind on developing the garden commercially, though what we see today took time to emerge.

“For the first seven or eight years, much of the land was a wilderness,” she recalls. Yet there were assets, too, not least a rare natural water source in the drought-prone east of Essex, where rainfall can be as little as 20in a year. “There were a few fine 300-year-old oaks and a spring-fed ditch ran through the hollow.” Today, the ornamental gardens cover about five acres; a further 10 are occupied by the nursery, which opened in 1967, and working areas.

Finding water was not the only challenge. “There was land that was so dry, the native weeds curled up and died. That eventually became my gravel garden,” she says. This she created in 1991, on the site of a car park. Apart from watering in the young, drought-tolerant plants during the first year, she has never artificially irrigated it.

Chatto has a knack for turning problem areas into an asset, and there are several distinct areas in the garden, each requiring a different approach. The large water gardens are dominated by a series of ponds surrounded by bog plants and swathes of lush grass. A long, shady walk runs parallel to one of the boundaries. Here, shade-tolerant planting – including ferns, tiarella and pulmonaria – carpet the ground beneath oaks and other specimen trees added by Chatto. By contrast, the gravel area is a mass of sun-loving perennials, with asters, rudbeckias and sedums glowing through hazy grasses.

The garden may have started out to give pleasure to a family, but it has developed into a self-contained horticultural powerhouse, attracting visitors from all over the world – about 40,000 a year. “It’s like sowing an acorn, which is my symbol,” says Chatto. “I have an acorn and an oak tree on a weather vane, which was a wonderful present from my staff.” Incredibly, it is tended by only one full-time and four part-time gardeners and volunteers – many of whom are foreign students. Chatto remains resolutely hands-on and is keen to pass on the knowledge she has gained through experience.

Chatto uses grasses brilliantly, and was doing so long before it became fashionable. She creates seemingly effortless but thoroughly satisfying combinations. Therein lies her genius – there may be others out there with an equal understanding of plants, but nobody else has her eye. Shape, scale, proportion, texture, colour – all are balanced with the skill of a plate-spinner.

She also factors in horticultural considerations – how big a plant will get, how fast or slowly it will grow, what conditions it needs to thrive and how it is maintained. The result is a garden that works on every level – practical, horticultural and aesthetic – with layer upon layer of carefully placed plants, as enticing asmillefeuillepastry. It all seems entirely uncontrived, but, on closer inspection, one notices geometric lines and angles. The big picture is built up gradually, with small groupings of three or more plants forming a satisfying melange of verticals and horizontals, and fluffy and solid plants. “I need the trees and shrubs to form a background, to paint the sky and lead the eye upwards towards the clouds,” Chatto explains. “Then one adds the embroidery, which I enjoy so much.” Nothing is allowed to get out of hand, but stagnation is not an option, either. “A garden is not a picture hanging on a wall,” she says. “It changes not only from hour to hour, week to week or month to month, but from year to year.”

Chatto has certainly noticed the effects of climate change. Drought is nothing new in her part of the world, where (the past two years aside) there is sometimes no rain for up to 10 weeks in the summer. “The most interesting change is the lack of cold weather,” she says. “Only 10 years ago, we had icicles hanging down, and when the children were little, they used to skate. Now we hardly have enough ice to bear a duck.” From an article by Rachel de Thame

Please visit for further information about this inspirational gardener and garden.

Posted by antonychammond on 2009-03-23 00:51:19

Tagged: , TheBethChattoGardens , BethChatto , Leaves , Green , ElmsteadMarket , Colchester , Essex , England , UK , Britain , flickrAward , Nature Through The Lens , winnr , ThePerfectPhotographer , CITRIT , GoldStarAward , firsttheearth , SAVEEARTH , AwesomeBlossoms , ElitePhotography , ABigFave

Magnificent Magenta

Magnificent Magenta

This is another study of colour more than anything else. I don’t normally do flowers but I have seen so many amazing flower photos that I had to have a look to see if there was anything I could use from some photos I have been looking through from the past few years.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know anything about flowers! But I saw this flower in the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and took a photo not really thinking I would use it for anything. This is just a bit of experimenting really.

This, in my honest opinion, is a pretty flower so I thought I would have a look at colour but use a little cross processing to see how it turned out. The pinks/magentas are close to their original shades but the white petals now have a distinct shade of blue to them, which makes for quite an interesting combination. And the cropping and positioning to the left gives it a different feel than a standard "whole head" framing.

Posted by Celtic-Wanderer on 2015-03-04 22:32:41

Tagged: , flower , flora , petals , pink , magenta , cross process , nikon , d5000

Carpet of Blue

Carpet of Blue

Part of a series of shots taken this week near Arundel – the combination of the straight dark trees punctuating the bluebell floor always makes for an interesting shot

Posted by Richard Paterson on 2014-04-25 15:49:46

Tagged: , bluebells , trees , south , downs , national , park , arundel , west

purple echo dance

purple echo dance

hggt and hpps!!!!

Posted by _aires_ on 2010-09-09 13:01:02

Tagged: , ‘@ires’ , aires , wind dance , stars in the garden , balloon flower , platycodon , green , purple , one of my favourite colour combinations , bokeh , macro , canon , 50d , 55+ , canon eos 50d , canon 50d , 100mm , canon ef 100mm f/2.8 macro usm , steph and frank’s house , carleton place , ontario , carleton place, ontario , canada , gorgeous green thursday , happy gorgeous green thursday , ggt , hggt!!! , Master Photos , Fleurs et Paysages , Persephone’s Garden , ExcellentsFlowers , TheBestofmimamorsGroups , NGC , DoubleFantasy , NPC

Cache Creek Wilderness

Cache Creek Wilderness

This secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral is a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM managed lands and 4,700 acres of State and County lands. The Natural Area is traversed by Cache Creek, with its year-round water flow. Elevation ranges from 3200 feet atop Brushy Sky High, down to 600 feet in the eastern end of Cache Creek along State Route 16. Showcasing the area is about 35 miles of the main fork of Cache Creek and 2.5 miles of the north fork. Also present are several tributary creeks that contain permanent water.

The Cache Creek Natural Area is a primitive area, closed to motorized vehicles. There are no developed campgrounds or facilities. Non-hunting (target) shooting is not allowed. Instead, the area is managed to improve habitat for wildlife and rare plants, to protect cultural resource values, and to offer primitive recreation opportunities, including wildlife viewing, river running, hiking, equestrian use, hunting and fishing. On October 17, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act, designating approximately 27,245 acres within the Cache Creek Natural Area as the Cache Creek Wilderness Area.

Learn more:

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

Posted by mypubliclands on 2014-12-17 22:22:09

Tagged: , Cache Creek Wilderness , NLCS , Wilderness , BLM , Bureau of Land Management , bwick , national conservation lands , conservation lands , california

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

Press L

Shot this on the way home yesterday. Fall is such a great time of year. The temperature is nice, the colors are nice, theres fog in the mornings, college football is on…..Thats a hard combination to beat!

Posted by Scott Farrar – dsfdawg on 2011-11-02 22:49:27

Tagged: , Fall , Colors , hdr , red , orange , yellow , green , light , sun , filtering , through , brick , fence , metal , bushes , leaves , leaf , maple , trees , tree , ga , georgia , home , southern , south , dsfotography , dsfdawg , high dynamic range

Nowhere To Hide

Nowhere To Hide

Wishing all my Flickr friends a very happy, successful, and a wonderful new year!

Yet another one from the macro series… shot handheld with 50mm lens + Raynox DCR-250 combination.

My Flowers & Macro set.

Posted by AbhijeetVardhan on 2008-01-20 18:49:33

Tagged: , nikond70 , Raynox DCR-250 , Macro , close-up , flower , bug , 50mm1.8D , NaturesFinest , SuperShot , AHQMacro , Brilliant-Eye-Jewel , blog

(365/313) Fall litter

(365/313) Fall litter

I had a late night at work and an early start tomorrow. Not my most favorite combination, but I’ll take it. I’m excited about photographing a friend of mine from Elementary School and his two daughters tomorrow! Wish me luck :))

Despite the fact that I feel like I should have just spent the night at work and slept on the couch, don’t feel sorry for me, I have most mornings free to goof off with Spot at any given park within a 10 mile radius. I enjoy my mornings very much… I’m grateful that I can wake up early and just relax, have some coffee, comment on Flickr and then take Spot for a long walk. Being my own boss has it’s advantages 🙂 Therefore, I’m adding this to 30 days of Gratitude. I love what I do 🙂

Posted by ♥ Esther ♥ on 2009-11-11 06:16:02

Tagged: , fall , leaves , scattered , yellow , red , orage , wet , ground , no, it didn’t rain…just wet from the sprinklers , I would love some rain though , it would give me an opportunity to bust out my sweaters , speaking of sweaters, wtf is with those sleeveless sweaters??? , I must admit , I own a few , but damn it , I’m still cold! , I almost bought a pair of fingerless gloves today , isn’t that the same concept as the sleeveless sweaters?? , I’m going to want those fingerless gloves when I’m struggling with the settings on my camera while wearing regular gloves. , ok, I’m done talking to myself….goodnight.

October 08, 2013 | {281:365}

October 08, 2013 | {281:365}


"Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men." – Quintus Ennius


The neighbourhood is not as warm and bright as usual today; today we lost a very admirable woman and a gentle soul.

I don’t have too much to say today; the passing of my sweet neighbour has been a bit of a shock and there just doesn’t seem to be the right combination of words to explain the impact of the loss.

May she rest in peace, and comfort be brought to those who’ve been left behind. I hope that whatever they believe, they believe she’s somewhere else starting a brand new garden.

Click "L" for a larger view.

Posted by flashfix on 2013-10-08 23:30:25

Tagged: , 365 Project , 281/365 , October 08 2013 , 2013 , Nikon , 2013inphotos , Ontario , Canada , D7000 , Ottawa , 40mm , Macro , Bright , Sunshine , Ray , Rays of Light , Rays of Sunshine , Backlit , Side of the road , Plant , MotherNature , Bokeh , Nature , Grass , Wheat , Weed , Lines , Autumn Light , Autumn , Soft , May be she free and happy wherever she is , tribute , dedication , Flashfix , Flashfix Photography