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In the garden at Chatsworth House: Part 2

Since visiting Chatsworth almost five weeks ago I have discovered the Channel 4 documentary Chatsworth House: A Great British Year. I’m glad not to have come across it before as it’s fun to see the house and garden again and learn how such a vast enterprise works. The kitchen garden featured in one of the shows and like everything at Chatsworth it is beautifully designed and cultivated. Even at the end of November when most of the crops had been harvested, there was plenty to see and interesting details to examine.

The kitchen garden occupies a sloping west-facing site of about three acres. A relatively new addition to the gardens, it was created in the early 1990s. As in the wider garden, water has been channelled from parkland behind the garden to feed rills and ponds. I was interested to see tulips being planted in handsome terracotta pots, tucked into a nook beside the cold frames. The lower boundary of the garden is formed by a tightly clipped beech hedge. Large golden stalks adorn a trio of metal frames fashioned into apples and a pear, each housing a yew shrub which in the years to come will fill out the frames to form topiary fruits at the entrance of the garden. Rhubarb forcers from Whichford Pottery in Warwickshire stand to attention like terracotta warriors. A couple of stone plaques caught my eye: a quirky mission statement for creativity from dress designer Paul Smith and a heart-shaped memorial to the late Duchess Deborah. Straight rows of chard and brassicas appear to radiate from the corner of the large plots in which they are planted.

Unmistakeable for their charred finish, David Nash’s sculptures look entirely at home in the Arboretum which occupies the upper slopes of the gardens. The gardens are separated from the surrounding parkland by a ha-ha, the eighteenth century innovation which enables a garden to blend seamlessly with the landscape beyond. Here the ha-ha is a stone retaining wall. I noticed that a meshwork fence has also been fitted near the top of the wall, presumably to deter deer from entering the garden and munching the rare specimen trees. On the subject of dry stone walling, an installation called ‘Emergence’ demonstrates the evolution of this ancient craft, fundamental to the rural landscape of not only Derbyshire but so many other areas of the country. It contains one giant rock, a reference to the practice of using naturally occurring boulders in field walls. The transition from the older random style of limestone dry stone walling to the more modern sandstone wall of shaped stones is marked by a giant pane of glass. The interpretation panel informed me that the glass also represents Joseph Paxton’s pioneering work on the Great Stove at Chatsworth which led to him designing the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851. Giant redwoods tower above the other conifers in the Pinetum, an echo for me of the area of Kew Gardens devoted to these majestic trees.

More nineteenth century technology features in much of the seating around the gardens at Chatsworth. Cast iron benches with a plant inspired designs are placed around the remains of the Great Stove and in the terrace beside the 3rd Duke’s greenhouse. I found nasturtiums, passionflowers and lilies of the valley, as well as a design showing gardeners sowing, raking, harvesting and scything.

The Serpentine Hedge separates the Maze from the woodland area beside the Canal Pond. A double row of symmetrically planted beech which curves in and out, this dates from 1953 and was inspired by the ‘crinkle-crankle’ walls found in many old gardens, the alternating concave and convex planes providing stability. Seeing the north face of the house reflected in the Canal Pond, the Emperor Fountain rising skywards in the centre, has to be one of my highlights of 2021. This end of the garden also contains more remarkable sculpture: a horse’s head by Nic Fiddian-Green

and Allen Jones’s Dejeuner sur L’Herbe, a 3D take on Edouard Manet’s famous painting. If asked to name a favourite work from the garden, I would choose Cornwall Slate Line by land artist Richard Long, which runs parallel with the Canal Pond. Not far away Dame Elisabeth Frink’s Walking Madonna strides through a grove of trees.

The family’s dogs appear in several sculptures nearer the house, faithful hounds keeping watch or assembling on the steps leading to the north front with its Ionic capitalised pilasters and windows framed in gold leaf. A frieze above the windows features coiled serpents, part of the Cavendish family crest. This motif is picked out in a pebble mosaic on the terrace near the 3rd Duke’s greenhouse, reminding me of the two dachshunds, Canna and Dahlia, immortalised in similar fashion in the Walled Garden at Great Dixter.

Classical statuary also abounds in the gardens, reminding me that this place has been a treasure house of art for many centuries. More mundane perhaps, but elegant in its own way, is the weather station on the Salisbury Lawns near the Broad Walk where temperature, rainfall and hours of sunshine are recorded and reported to the Met Office.

I shall leave you here with a final image from my memorable visit to Chatsworth, Flora’s Temple decorated for Christmas.

Well, not quite the last image. The finger post pointing the way to Chatsworth marked my exit in the early evening dark from the park into the village of Baslow where I was staying. It’s also inviting me back one spring or summer to explore further and to see Dan Pearson’s Trout Stream planting and Tom Stuart-Smith’s Arcadia in their full glory.

Kew, 29 December 2021

From Chiswick to Chatsworth

In the garden at Chatsworth House: Part 1

A garden in winter reveals its skeleton, shed of most of its green surface layer, enabling you to see the physical structure of the space. Happily heavy overnight rain washed away the blanket of snow which I’d encountered when visiting Chatsworth House the day before. The 100 acre site seems bigger, perhaps because of the terrain: wooded slopes rising from more formal areas either side of the Broad Walk, running parallel with the eastern elevation of the house. According to the health App. on my phone on the evening of my visit, I had climbed the equivalent of 35 storeys!

As you enter the garden, you see a series of garden buildings. I hesitate to call them glasshouses, because the grandest of them is more in the style of an orangery, and is called the 3rd Duke’s Greenhouse. Consisting of two growing spaces, separated by a columned loggia, it houses a collection of camellias, considered too tender for growing in the Derbyshire climate. It immediately reminded me of the Conservatory at Chiswick House (currently closed for renovation) but home to camellias first planted in the nineteenth century. It is perhaps no coincidence that comparisons can be drawn between Chatsworth and Chiswick.

First a little history: when the 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720 – 1764) married Lady Charlotte Boyle, the Cavendish family estates increased considerably for she was the only surviving child of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. As well as an Irish castle (Lismore), two estates in Yorkshire and a house in London (Burlington House, now the home of the Royal Academy), the Earl’s legacy included Chiswick House, a couple of miles from where I sit typing this blog post. William Kent (1685-1748) (who with the Earl of Burlington transformed the gardens at Chiswick House and indeed the house itself) produced designs for remodelling the cascade at Chatsworth and is thought to have influenced the naturalisation of the garden.

As well as camellias, this greenhouse shelters tender climbers such as Lapageria rosea with its elongated bell-shaped flowers. In my last post I mentioned the influence of the late Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (1920-2014), on the property. Amongst the many famous faces of the twentieth century she knew, was the 35th president of the USA, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Indeed they were related by marriage as Jack Kennedy’s sister Kathleen (known as ‘Kick’) married her husband, Andrew Cavendish’s elder brother Billy Hartington in 1944. Billy was killed in Belgium later that year during the Allied advance after D-Day making Andrew heir to the Dukedom. Tragically Kick died in 1948 when the plane in which she was flying to the south of France from Paris crashed. Intrigued by two curvaceous silver chairs in the loggia between the two sections of the greenhouse, on closer inspection I found they were constructed from hundreds of half dollar pieces, all bearing the profile of JFK.

There are three other ‘glasshouses’ near the garden entrance, none of which was open on the day of my visit:

The Vinery and the Case were both designed by Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) who became head gardener at Chatsworth in 1826. As well as the surviving buildings, in 1836 he also built what was at the time the largest glass structure in the world, the Great Stove. His innovations at Chatsworth informed what was to become his masterpiece, the Crystal Palace, centrepiece of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park of 1851. Sadly, Chatsworth’s Great Stove was demolished in the 1920s, but its stone perimeter wall remains, forming the boundary of a yew maze created in 1962. In the tradition of employing the most influential garden designers of the day, the planting in the borders of the Maze has been updated by Tom Stuart-Smith, the variety of grasses being particularly noteworthy on the day of my visit.

The perimeter wall of Paxton’s Conservatory (The Great Stove)

I chatted to a group of gardeners planting bulbs on the slope to the east of the Maze and learned they were planting Narcissus Mount Hood.

A climb of a hundred steps leads to the Arboretum, from which there is a spectacular view back to the Maze and the parkland beyond. The colours and textures of the planting either side of the steps are beautiful.

Garden designers at the top of their game, one from the 19th century and another from the 21st century, have created one of the central features of the gardens at Chatsworth. Joseph Paxton built the three acre Rock Garden starting in 1842, using stone from elsewhere on the Chatsworth estate. The rock formations are monumental and can seem overpowering, particularly in dull weather. Since 2018 Tom Stuart-Smith has been introducing naturalistic and ecologically inspired planting so as to

redefine the Rock Garden as a fantasy domain, full of variety, spontaneous naturalness and picturesque diversion; quite separate from the rest of the garden where openness, smoothness, and settled grandeur prevail.

Tom Stuart-Smith. Press release 9 December 2020.
Lunaria rediviva

Throughout the garden, as in the house, contemporary art is given equal weight with historic sculpture. In the Rock Garden, Emily Young’s Lion Woman blends perfectly with the surrounding rocks.

Tom Stuart-Smith is also transforming a a 15 acre site at the heart of the garden, Arcadia, by planting large trees and shrubs and extensive herbaceous perennials in a series of glades linked by woodland walks. Another eminent garden designer who is putting his stamp on Chatsworth is Dan Pearson who began to redevelop the Trout Stream in 2015. This narrow watercourse meanders close to the western boundary of the garden. The original concept for the new planting in this area was demonstrated in a garden created by the designer for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2015 which won Best in Show. A track runs alongside the stream, just wide enough for a couple of people, enabling you to see the plants at close quarters.

A few metres from the stream you can walk across to the pond which feeds the Cascade, and ultimately the Sea Horse Fountain in the south lawn beside the house. The original Cascade was completed in 1696 to a design by Louis IV’s hydraulics engineer, Grillet. Only a few years later, a steeper flight of steps was installed culminating in the Cascade House, from which the water dramatically gushes forth.

The Cascade

One of Barry Flanagan’s hare sculptures, Drummer, stands beside another body of water in the outer reaches of the garden, the Grotto Pond. The Grotto itself is a rustic timber building with a slate roof atop a mass of boulders.

One of my favourite spots in the garden for contemporary sculpture is the Angela Conner Grove, where various members of royalty as well as the artistic and literary worlds are portrayed. Chatsworth’s equivalent of the busts in William Kent’s Temple of British Worthies at Stowe in Buckinghamshire?

I can see that Chatsworth is a place that I could visit many times over and still find new aspects to enjoy. Next time: more Chatsworth sculptures feature and a very impressive Kitchen Garden.

Kew

4 December 2021

Devonshire in Derbyshire

A day at Chatsworth House

Winter has arrived early in the Peak District. A generous blanket of snow covers the Chatsworth Estate, courtesy of Storm Arwen in the early hours of last Saturday morning. When I entered the park this morning via the ingeniously designed Cannon Kissing Gate, it felt like entering a magical kingdom, or should that be dukedom?

Like other grand estates Chatsworth has its own colour paintwork, meaning that all estate buildings, even if situated several miles from the main house, share the same shade of ocean blue woodwork and metalwork. Even the front door of my comfortable Air BnB cottage in the village of Baslow, which forms part of an estate farm, Yeldwood Farm, is blue. There’s something pleasingly uniform about this branding exercise though some might argue that it perpetuates a feudal system that has no place in the 21st century!

The predecessors of the Dukes of Devonshire have occupied the site since the mid 16th century, although it wasn’t until 1694 that the dukedom was created, courtesy of William II, in gratitude for the 4th Earl of Devonshire’s role in bringing him and Mary to the English throne six years earlier.

Knowing that it would be too ambitious to see both the house and garden on the same day, I went to the house today and shall visit the garden tomorrow. I kept seeing tantalising glimpses of the garden from the windows of the house, and was delighted to see the famous Emperor fountain playing, despite the temperature not having risen much above freezing this morning. But the grandeur of the interiors and the joyful manner in which the interior has been decorated for Christmas, ensured that my attention didn’t wander to the scenes outside.

The Emperor Fountain from the house

Many of the Dukes of Devonshire have been great art connoisseurs, both collecting and commissioning artworks. The present Duke (the 12th) and Duchess are no exception. Contemporary works are displayed throughout the house, complementing their surroundings, rather than appearing incongruous. I particularly liked the modern ceramic pieces, often in the form of groups of vessels displayed on mantelpieces and in fireplaces , echoing the practice of showing collections of blue and white porcelain in such places.

In the Dome Room just beyond the magnificent library, stands Sowing Colour, porcelain flasks of varying heights in vivid colours, created by Natasha Daintry in 2018. In the guidebook the artist is quoted as saying that ‘Making the piece I did feel I was sowing colour. Sowing is a direct action, a conscious and controlled act of cultivation, while colour represents the wild and unknowable phenomenon of nature’.

With DNA sequencing being more important than ever in the development of anti-COVID vaccines, the installation in the North Sketch Gallery could not be more relevant. The work of Jacob van der Beugel in 2014, it consists of 659 ochre coloured ceramic panels based on the mitochondrial DNA of the 12th Duke and Duchess, their son Lord Burlington and his wife Lady Burlington, forming four individual ‘portraits’, with a fifth depicting ‘Everyman’ showing the DNA we have in common. I loved the deceptive simplicity of this light-filled gallery after the darker, lavishly decorated state apartments.

I was also happy to find some old ‘friends’ on display:

A Christmas card from the sculptor in wood, David Nash, reminding me of his period as sculptor in residence at Kew Gardens when I worked there.

A triple portrait by John Singer Sargent, Portrait of the Acheson sisters, 1902. In a blog post last year, I wrote about an excellent Garden Museum talk on his garden paintings.

The family’s dogs, immortalised in panels in the Oak Room, which also contains elements of a Chatsworth Christmas a few years ago, with the theme of Mr Toad.

A couple of portraits of the late Duchess Deborah, as she is styled in the guidebook, one by Lucian Freud dating from 1958-1960. What a fascinating life this youngest of the Mitford sisters led. In a documentary several years ago I remember learning that alongside her passion for chickens, she was a diehard Elvis fan!

My eldest great nephew would have appreciated the Firebolt broomstick, signed by JK Rowling.

A life-sized musical box in the Chapel which opened to reveal this dainty ballerina from the Nutcracker.

This account of my visit barely scratches the surface of Chatsworth House and its treasures. I can’t wait to see the garden tomorrow, to discover more of them.

Baslow, Derbyshire

29 November 2021

The Only Way is Essex: part 2

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

Once a year throughout my teenage years we took Sean, our black Labrador cross, to Mr Montgomery’s kennels or ‘Monto’ as my dad called it. Mr Montgomery was an elderly Scotsman whose boarding kennels were down a country lane about 12 miles from our house in Brentwood. Mr Montgomery loved Sean and we knew he would be in safe hands while we were on holiday. The kennels were in the tiny village of Rettendon close to the Hanningfields reservoir which supplied water to much of south Essex. In those distant days there was no indication that from 1993 a remarkable new garden would develop in Rettendon, to be run by the Royal Horticultural Society: RHS Garden Hyde Hall.

My last post described my visit to the Beth Chatto Garden near Colchester. The next day we went to Hyde Hall. The only other RHS garden I have visited is Wisley in Surrey, not too long a drive from home for me and where I go a couple of times a year. I was curious to compare Hyde Hall with its older sister garden and the most striking immediate differences for me were the wide skies and open vistas of the Essex garden. If I say that a couple of areas reminded me of a golf course it is not meant as a criticism, it is to describe the openness of much of the site. It was fascinating to see the extent of the tree planting being undertaken and to imagine what the same views will look like in 40 years’ time when the trees have matured. It made me think about the work of the great 18th century landscape designers like Charles Bridgeman, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphrey Repton who moulded the land to their vision of the perfect landscape, moving trees and creating lakes and mounds. In the 21st century powered machinery has replaced men, horses and ingenious (and huge) tree planting devices.

The route indicated in the visitor map leads you first to the Winter Garden, always of interest to me for ideas for year round interest. I hadn’t gone very far before spying a low-growing plant with lobed and serrated leaves in a neat crown with a mass of starry white flowers flushed pink and held on dainty red stems: Saxifraga Sibyll Trelawney JP.

Saxifraga Sibyll Trelawney JP.

Grasses feature throughout much of the garden, such as at the foot of these birches, blended with Cornus, yet to be shed crimson leaves masking the scarlet stems which will come to the fore during the winter months.

Birches, grasses & dogwoods

I was surprised to find a Daphne already in flower, expecting these sweetly scented evergreen shrubs to flower in very early spring, but here Daphne x transatlantica Blafra was covered in waxy white blooms, smelling quite divine. Not far away, I was pleased to identify a tree that I have seen growing near my niece’s home in Somerset, Fraxinus angustifolia Raywood, the leaves of which turn a faintly metallic crimson shade from early October.

It was the third weekend in October and thanks to a blend of grasses and late flowering perennials such as Verbena bonariensis and Anemone japonica the Clover Hill Borders were both colourful and full of movement. The stems of Lythrum virgatum Dropmore Purple are garnet-coloured in autumn and complement swathes of Persicaria. Another combination that caught my eye was russet flowered Mahonia nitens Cabaret and the blue flowers of Ceratostigma willmottianum.

The area known as the Queen Mother’s Garden is composed of a series of woodland areas, packed with interesting trees and shrubs. This being an RHS garden I saw many unfamiliar cultivars, such as the white berry-bearing Callicarpa japonica Leucocarpa, its autumn leaves almost as pale as its fruit. Or Berberis Georgei, festooned with bunches of plump berries resembling scarlet jellybeans. Cornus Norman Hadden also bears unusual fruits which look for all the world like very large raspberries.

A tree cultivar suitable for a smallish garden thrust skywards through a grove of bananas: Liquidambar styraciflua Slender Silhouette. And the sun illuminated the plumes of a Pampas grass (Cortaderia).

Beyond the shaded slopes of Clover Hill the garden opens out to reveal a light-filled cafe and buildings such as a thatched barn, which once formed part of the farm on the site of which the garden has been created. Echoing Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden from the day before, but built on a sloping site, it was interesting to explore the Dry Garden where another pampas grass swayed gracefully in the breeze.

We cut through to the Global Growth Vegetable Garden, built in a circular design around an octagonal glasshouse. All manner of edible plants are displayed here including dahlias. When I’ve seen dahlias growing on allotments it’s usually for decorative purposes but here I learnt from an interpretation panel that they can be eaten! But when you can mash, fry or roast the common or garden spud, cooking dahlias seems like a lot of bother particularly if it means missing out on spectacular flowers like those on view here.

The crisp precision of the yew hedging in the very formal and traditional Rose Garden and Herbaceous Border was a testament to the high standard of horticulture at Hyde Hall, showcase as it is for the RHS.

Formality of a more contemporary kind anchors the last two gardens we saw on this visit. Located near the garden exit, the Modern Country Garden and Cottage Garden. In the former, yew pyramids at bed corners and drums created from (I think) olive trees, provide structure amidst grasses and Allium seedheads.

Vivid foliage shone out in the Cottage Garden: button snakeroot (Liatris spicata Kobold) and Euonymus alatus. Uplifting sights before facing the Sunday afternoon traffic on the A12 and M25!

20 November 2021

The Only Way is Essex: part 1

Beth Chatto Gardens

Writing about my gardening heroes and their gardens is like standing on the shoulders of giants. In this post I shall try to do justice to Beth Chatto (1923-2018) whose unique garden in Essex I visited a week ago today. In the same way that Christopher Lloyd stamped his personality and vision for his garden on Great Dixter (see my last blog post) the garden in Elmstead Market is redolent of its charismatic creator. You find yourself referring to ‘she’ and ‘her’ as you walk around the place, noticing details that she introduced, such as the three grass-covered bridges crossing the Water Garden and the pot garden in the courtyard close to the house, the displays changed according to the seasons. It was easy to imagine her walking around her domain chatting to visitors and inspecting the precious plants in the Stock Beds from which she and her team propagated the plants sold in The Nursery.

Reading Beth Chatto’s Garden Notebook and Dear Friend and Gardener, the latter a collection of letters between Beth and Christopher Lloyd, I’d already formed an impression of the garden itself and the daily influence Beth Chatto exerted on the Gardens that she and her husband Andrew began to create from an unprepossessing wasteland in 1960, the site ranging from ‘parched gravel’ to ‘boggy ditches’, according to the blurb on the visitor map. So when a conversation with a friend earlier in the summer revealed that we both wanted to see both Beth Chatto’s garden and RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford, a plan was hatched for a weekend trip to the county of my birth!

At this stage I shall digress to sing the praises of a much maligned county. Essex is far more scenic and interesting and indeed record-breaking than its detractors would have you believe. It boasts what has been described as the prettiest village in England (Finchingfield, also the home of Dodie Smith, of One Hundred & One Dalmations fame), the longest bar in England (in a pub in Southend, one of its several seaside resorts) and arguably the largest village green in the country in Great Bentley, a mile or so from Elmstead Market. And not forgetting two world class gardens: Beth Chatto’s and Hyde Hall. Once you travel beyond the commuter belt to the east of London, the countryside is dotted with picturesque villages and small towns, many with ancient churches and market halls built with the wealth generated by the wool trade in mediaeval times.

Essex also boasts a relatively low average rainfall in comparison to other parts of the country and this was a major preoccupation of Beth Chatto in her vision for her garden. Whilst the lower-lying, boggier parts of the site were excavated to create a water garden consisting of three elongated pools fed from the reservoir on neighbouring land, the dry upper section of the land, on which a car park was originally built, was transformed in 1991 into the Gravel Garden. As I write this in the week of COP 26, this garden is a pioneering example of one watered only by rainfall. In her book The Dry Garden, Beth reiterates her planting philosophy of ‘right plant, right place’, demonstrating that plants will grow in difficult places if you choose the species that will thrive in that location. In the third week of October, the Gravel Garden was as attractive as it would have been in high summer. The palette is beige and grey with occasional pops of purple. Felty silver-leafed plants from the Mediterranean form low mounds punctuated by dozens of swaying grasses, substantial lumps of Verbena bonariensis and related species tinting the aspect with deep mauve.

All plants are clearly labelled and I repeatedly noticed plants that have not crossed my radar before, such as the deeply veined, penny sized leaves of Marrubium ‘All Hallows Green’. This wasn’t the only hint of the Halloween season. Elsewhere in the garden the propagation manager has placed colourful displays of pumpkins and other decorative gourds, some carved, others displayed for their colour and shape. Rather than hollowing out the gourds, the designs have been executed on the surface of the skin, enabling the artist to create faces ranging from the comic to the macabre.

In the Water Garden the deciduous conifers, the swamp cypresses (Taxodium distichum) were just beginning to change colour, their emerging russet foliage echoing the woodwork of the little rowing boat moored alongside the Gunnera. Elsewhere the still pools reflect the lush planting on the banks. And again, more unusual plants such as the pretty mauve pom-pom flowered Succisella inflexa.

Beyond the Water Garden stands the most recently created part of the garden, The Reservoir Garden, opened the year before Beth died. This series of island beds was a mass of spectacular grasses, asters (now Symphyotrichum) and tempting but poisonous blue-flowered Aconitum. To the rear of the border alongside the neighbouring reservoir, stand multi-stemmed shrubs and small trees, including Sorbus glabriuscula with its small white berries flushed with pink.

The Reservoir Garden
Sorbus glabriuscula

Soft autumn colours are beginning to emerge on the trees of the Woodland Garden, the understorey comprising intriguing ground cover plants. I imagine this element of this area of the garden is at its height in spring, and for now it’s the trees which are the stars of this show, both their bark and foliage.

Between the Woodland Garden and the Nursery is yet another mainly herbaceous border where I spotted the leaves of Bergenia, more asters, a clump of pampas grass and both pink and deep red Persicaria flowers. When so many other plants have finished flowering by late October, the elongated, slightly twisted spires provide colour and low to medium vertical form. Plunging back into the Reservoir Garden we encountered a couple of beds of different grasses, in one the rice grain-sized flowers attached to strands of Panicum Frosted Explosion resembled raindrops.

It took considerable restraint not to linger for the rest of the afternoon in the ‘plantarea’ section of the Nursery, where many of the rare plants we had admired are for sale at what looked like very reasonable prices. I noticed that the sales areas are divided between damp and dry garden plants, which highlights the right plant, right place philosophy evident throughout the garden. There’s even a zone devoted to Scree plants.

We left Beth Chatto’s garden to drive east a few miles to the coast to visit Frinton. Although I’m too young to remember holidays there, this was where we holidayed when my sister and I were very young. Why leave the county when there’s a resort with a safe sandy beach a relatively short drive away? It was fun to walk along the beach and photograph the beach huts, trying to imagine which of them we played in front of all those years ago. I wonder what changes my parents would have noticed? The turbines of the Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm would not have dominated the seascape to the south as they do now, strangely beautiful in the setting sun and supplying coal-free power to hundreds of homes.

My focus turned once more to Beth Chatto when I went to the Garden Museum in Lambeth last Wednesday afternoon. In a long display cabinet devoted to Beth I picked up a little more background to the creation of her garden.

Beth Chatto celebrated at The Garden Museum