In this exchange of personal letters two of Britain's leading gardeners - Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto - share their successes and failures, and learn from each other's experiences in their two very different gardens.
Beth Chatto (born 27/06/1923) was a plantswomen, gardener and writer. Whilst having no formal horticultural training, she was inspired by her parents' enthusiastic gardening, her husband's lifelong study of natural associations of plants, and friendship with the great plantsman and artist Sir Cedric Morris. The Beth Chatto Gardens began at Elmstead Market, Essex in 1960. By applying the principles of ecological gardening, she transformed an overgrown area of wasteland into informal gardens that harmonise with the surrounding countryside. Complementing the gardens is a large plant nursery producing a wide range of unusual plants, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. She won ten Gold Medals the Chelsea Flower Show and was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour (1987), the Lawrence Memorial Medal and an honorary doctorate from Essex University. She was the author of many books including her classics The Dry Garden (1978) and The Damp Garden (revised 2004) as well as Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden (2000) and Beth Chatto's Woodland Garden (2002). An engaging exchange of letters with Christopher Lloyd, Dear Friend and Gardener, was published in 1998. In 2002 she was awarded the OBE for her services to horticulture. A keen advocate of organic gardening, she lectured worldwide. She died in 2018.
CHRISTOPHER LLOYD OBE was among the best informed, liveliest, most worthwhile gardening writers of our time and the author of a host of classics. He spent years lovingly developing and refining his celebrated gardens at Great Dixter in Sussex. Throughout his career he was unparalleled in gardening journalism, writing for many publications from COUNTRY LIFE to the GUARDIAN. In 1979 the Royal Horticultural Society conferred on him its highest honour, the VICTORIA MEDAL OF HONOUR. He received the OBE for services to horticulture in 2000, and he died in 2006.
Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter, first worked at the Beth Chatto Gardens as a student, over twenty years ago, and has remained a close friend of Beth's ever since.