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The Beth Chatto Gardens are an example of what you can achieve if you begin with a challenging landscape. These 7.5 acres of beautiful gardens are located 10 minutes' drive from Colchester and are open all year round. Beth herself is an author, lecturer and 10-time Chelsea Gold Medal Winner, and her Gardens reflect her passion for plants. Her mantra is 'the Right Plant for the Right Place' and that is what you'll find here. The Gravel Garden (which is FREE for visitors to explore) used to be a carpark. It is never watered and is recognised worldwide as a masterpiece of design and nature. Books have been written about it and Beth's own book, 'The Gravel Garden', has recently been reprinted: now called 'Drought-resistant planting'. The Gardens are made up of different named areas: The Water Garden, Woodland Garden, Scree Garden, Herbaceous Walk, and Reservoir Garden, which is currently undergoing development (due to be completed in 2016). The Gardens include an extensive plant nursery, with many plants propagated from the Gardens themselves and often hard to find elsewhere. Accompanied children are welcome to the Gardens and the Beth Chatto Education Trust offers workshops during the holidays to help children learn more about nature and our environment.
We enjoyed our trip to Beth Chatto's garden, we went specifically to look for inspiration from the drought resistant garden but there are a range of different areas and gardens (shade / water / general) within the grounds which were also interesting and attractive. Lots to appeal, and many ideas for everyone. It was not quite as big as we had anticipated but we were there comfortably for three hours including a quick lunch.
The cafe was excellent, really enjoyed our lunch (quite like a National Trust cafe with slightly less range - similar prices but great quality) and there is a well-stocked nursery and shop. Everyone was friendly and helpful. We did see kids there, but I don't think it would be particularly interesting for your typical child or teenager unless they are really into gardening.
Wow! A small word but these gardens left a huge delighted feeling with my mother in law and I. We love our small gardens and we're looking for inspiration, boy did we find it. Whether it's ponds, woodlands or shrubberies that you love the most, these gardens will give you all the inspiration you need. The restaurant there is also well worth popping into, a lunch for two with drinks came to under £15, good size portions all scratch made, very tasty. If you see a plant, or two, three, you like the staff will help you find these in the garden centre next to the gardens. Easy parking... Mother in law loved it (brownie point for me).
We visited the gardens with our daughter in her pram we paid £6 entry and it was worth every penny. We took lots of photo's of the really unusual looking plants and flowers giving us some ideas for our own garden. The gardens are really peaceful and at the time we visited not too busy so there was plenty of space and time to wander at our leisure and really look at the variety of plants, trees and flowers.
We also visited the cafe which was really good, great food, reasonably priced, highly recommended.
The sort of garden you might aspire to as its not all manicured and precise, but simply plants put in the places where they flourish. Lovely! Excellent cafe too for lunch and cakes.
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