The author of several gardening classics, including The Dry Garden
and The Damp Garden
, British horticulturist Beth Chatto has once again documented her gardening adventures in Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden
. A woman with a true love of soil (no matter how temperamental) and plant life, Chatto set out to create a lovely, viable garden in her gravelly, sandy soil. The challenge to find flowers and shrubs that would survive and thrive in this dry environment became an eight-year experiment that resulted in a beautiful, original gravel garden ranging over three-quarters of an acre.
Chatto takes us through the process step by step, beginning with conceptualization. How can she turn a former parking lot into a prospering garden? She notes that
We all find a haze of bluebells beneath beeches, primroses on clay soil beneath oaks, or a damp meadow golden with buttercups more magical than anything we can create. However, in our gardens we look for more. We learn to make plant associations that extend the season, to create pictures worth living with throughout the year.
Season by season, year by year, Chatto records the planting and maintenance of her gravel garden, reveling in the fecundity and tenacity of nature. Her prose is clear, concise, and at times dryly academic. Readers who have a wide knowledge of botany and an understanding of the Latin names of plants will have a leg up on more casual gardeners. Filled with pictures by Steven Wooster, who has photographed many of Chatto's gardens, the book is a visual delight. The vibrant ruby petals of clematis leap off the page and you can almost feel the spiny green stalks of the Onopordum acanthium. --Dana Van Nest
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Beth Chatto combines, as well as anyone at work today and better than most, an eye for good plants, knowledge of their ways and a sensitivity when putting them together -- Ursula Buchan Spectator Beth Chatto has to be the plantswoman of the century because she knows how to please plants ... a desire to emulate these beautiful plantings should be enough to drive all serious gardeners to read the book -- Mary Keen Garden