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Beth Chatto Gardens

Internationally famous gardens, including dry, damp, shade, reservoir and woodland areas. The result of over 50 years of hard work and application of the huge body of plant knowledge possessed by Beth Chatto and her late husband Andrew. Visitors cannot fail to be affected by the peace and beauty of the garden. The new Reservoir Garden was opened by Beth in 2017: a wonderful area, and a must-visit for those who haven't seen it yet.

Large plant nursery. Audio trail. Tree Trail. Gift Shop. Free parking. Garden courses and events held all year. Open all year round. We have a large Tearoom overlooking the Gravel Garden and Nursery, offering homemade breakfasts, lunches and teas. It is also fully licensed.

Opening for NGS:
Saturday 17 March (9am - 5pm). Admission £4.50, children free.
Sunday 30 September (9am - 5pm). Admission £7.95, children free.
Light refreshments.

Mrs Beth Chatto

For other opening times and information, please phone 01206 822007, email or visit

Disabled WC & parking. Wheelchair access around all of the gardens - on gravel or grass (concrete in Nursery, Giftshop and Tearoom areas).

How to find us

Beth Chatto Gardens, Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex, CO7 7DB

¼m E of Elmstead Market. On A133 Colchester to Clacton Rd in village of Elmstead Market.

More about Beth Chatto Gardens

The Beth Chatto Gardens are an example of turning unfavourable conditions into a positive advantage, using plants adapted by nature to their environment. Andrew Chatto's life-long study into the homes of garden plants has been the inspiration for their style of gardening. He researched not only the country of origin, but also the environment including soil and climate. Ecological communities are governed by prevailing conditions, giving rise to variation such as dry or damp grasslands, woodlands, mountain plants or bog plants. From these communities come many of our garden plants.Originally the site of the Chatto Gardens consisted of problem areas, providing difficult conditions for conventional garden design. The soil ranged from coarse gravel on the upper slopes to clay in a long wet hollow fed by springs. The average annual rainfall is 20 inches. Over the past 50 years seven acres have been transformed into diverse and beautifully landscaped gardens. A spring-fed ditch was dammed to form several ponds around which water gardens offer a home for damp-loving plants. This area comes as a huge surprise in dry Essex. Above it, and inspired by a dried-up river bed in New Zealand, Beth Chatto designed and planted a 3/4 acre of gravel and sand using plants adapted to drought. The Gravel Garden is an experiment begun over 20 years ago, to see what survives without irrigation. Finally, areas of peace and tranquillity are found along shady walks beneath mature oaks and in the new Reservoir Garden. The Gardens include a large nursery with the majority of plants propagated from those grown in the Gardens, all sold according to the planting conditions that suit them best, in keeping with the Beth Chatto ethos of the 'Right plant in the right place'.

Featured on and in BBC Gardeners' World interview with Carol Klein, various newspaper and magazine articles and book mentions. Foreword written by Beth Chatto in new book ‘Secret gardens of East Anglia’ written by Barbara Segall.