Beth Chatto’s Green Tapestry Paperback – 6 Apr 1999
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Beth Chatto has a formidable reputation as a plantswoman. Beth Chatto's Green Tapestry is a celebration of her garden in Essex, where over 35 years she has triumphantly overcome quite extraordinarily difficult growing conditions to create a flowing sequence of different garden environments using the natural variations of the site. Her Entrance Garden, Open Walks, Shade and Dry Gardens are powerfully distinct and beautiful creations, filled with plants chosen not just for their visual qualities but also for their ability to co-exist harmoniously within the specialist ecosystems she has developed. The simple but illuminating wisdom of her planting principles fills the book. Her knowledge is immense--she seems to forget nothing about her plants--and she shares it generously, recounting her failures as well as her successes. In the end, the lesson learned is that plants must be respected and not forced into unsuitable habitats. The sections on the different parts of her garden are complemented by helpful and informative lists of suitable perennials, their habits, their likes and dislikes, their foibles, above all their beauties. Aimed particularly at those new to gardening, Green Tapestry makes an inspiring introduction to the pleasures of plants. --Robin Davidson
‘I know of no more honest writer. She describes as she sees, imaginately but never over the top; always so as to make me murmur an echoing
“this is as it is”. Everything is from direct observation and experience. She is never woolly off the point. Beth Chatto knows how people think and behave and pinpoints our foibles and weaknesses with commnsense and understanding.’
Top customer reviews
This isn't a book for the beginner to gardening, but it is an important book for anyone who wants to progress, and create a truly beautiful garden, based on an understanding of the needs of plants. If you have wondered why your plants keep dying off in your 'made-over' garden, or why they look rather feeble and unhappy, this book would be a good investment.
Beth Chatto has a lifetime's gardening experience, and her knowledge is presented here in an attractive and readable format.
Beth Chatto doesn't put plants where she fancies planting them, she puts them where they would like to be. She knows that different plants need different conditions in order to be happy, and this broad categorising of different habitats is reflected in the sections in this book, which describe the planting in different areas of her garden.
Her own gardens are vast, and yet her approach is inspiring to anyone who loves plants and gardening, no matter what the size of garden available. For whatever the size of garden, as she says, `every gardener has to learn a lot from trial and error'.
In case I'm making it sound too pedantic, or difficult, I should stress that this is also a very attractive book. As well as providing a wealth of information from a true plantswoman, it contains beautiful photographs. Some of these show views of Beth Chatto's own planting - on a far larger scale than most of us will be planting, but inspiring nonetheless. Just as striking are the close-ups of smaller plant groupings, referred to by the author as `precious miniatures'.
Not all of us can see our garden planting in the artistic way Beth Chatto does, probably why many of us do, as she says, `dot plants around the garden like pins in a pincushion'. There is probably a certain natural talent - knowing what looks good where - in her own successful planting, but as she shows in this book, this artistic eye is only part of her success. More important is an understanding of the plant's natural habitat, including factors such as light availability and soil conditions. And once plants are understood to be not merely flowers, but also a mixture of form and foliage, and with certain requirements for good health, the planting takes on a deeper level.
Detailed accounts of areas in Beth Chatto's own garden are interspersed with sections on favourite plants, such as Hellebores and Eryngiums. There are planting plans throughout the book, and a useful alphabetically-arranged plant guide towards the end. The approach overall is thoughtful and wide-ranging, and is an antidote to the rather superficial instant gardening we have become used to.
As already mentioned, the photography is superb, although rather envy-inducing, and the planting plans extremely useful for deciding how to lay out a new bed or re-structure an existing bed.
I am returning to it again this spring for expert guidance on how to plan a new herbaceous border. I will be doing the opposite of the TV instant-makeover brigade, and growing most of my perennials from seed - hundreds of plants for under £20. Far more satisfying!
A highly recommended book from a master of her craft.
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