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06-Oct-2015 21:03

This is a unique place, created by the woman who has given the garden its name (it was originally called White Barn House when it first opened in 1973) and she has now become internationally renowned because of her plant philosophy and best-selling books.

Beth Chatto, plantswoman extraordinaire, started creating this garden in 1960 with her husband.

The gardens and nursery are open seven days a week throughout the year, opening at 9.00 Monday-Saturday and 10.00 on Sundays.

Another Essex garden that will fill you with inspiration is Green Island at nearby Ardleigh.

There was nothing here at all when she arrived here more than 50 years ago, but Beth and her husband Andrew set to work to turn this into the paradise that survives today - seven acres of joy, created out of a neglected hollow that was boggy in parts and arid as a desert elsewhere.

Together they pioneered the idea of using plants adapted by nature to problem places, using shade-loving plants in areas with little direct light and drought-tolerant plants in dry places.

Using various plants that are adapted to thrive in different conditions, an inspirational, informal garden has developed.

The garden here is divided into three main areas - the water garden with its five interlinking ponds, which is a profusion of damp-loving plants, already making progress early in the season; the celebrated Gravel Garden (above), started in 1991 as an experiment to see just how drought-loving plants would respond to one of the driest corners of Britain, and the woodland garden, which was as good as flattened during the 1987 hurricane, but now looks as though it's always been there.

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A bitterly-cold and showery April day is not the best day to visit gardens, but even this early in the season, when spring is running a little late, the Beth Chatto Gardens are looking stunning - filled with promise for the new season!

Seven acres of joy, created out of a once-neglected hollow between two farms, where Beth Chatto has worked wonders.