Two of my favourites – Gardens Illustrated magazine, and more importantly, a cover feature highlighting Beth Chatto’s Top 100 Must Have Plants! For those familiar with the woman I consider to be the absolute doyenne of shade gardening, you are likely familiar with her wonderful gardens and nursery in Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex.The Beth Chatto Gardens began in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows it has been transformed into an informal garden harmonizing with the surrounding countryside. Beth is also largely responsible for the gardening philosophy of ‘right plant, right place,’ whereby ensuring that a given plant has the most opportune chance of not only surviving, but actually thriving in it’s garden placement. I was thrilled to discover that some of my own personal favourites were included in her extensive listing that covered not only the shadier areas of her property, but also those for sun, for dry and arid locations, as well as those with an abundance of moisture. which is often a rarity in that part of England outside of specifically designed and created bog gardens, which are also present on her property.
It was refreshing to hear that in order to meet the requirements of this article, Beth had to whittle and pare down a vast listing of the plants that she successfully cultivates. Her words resonate with a love and passion of plants that befits her status within the gardening world over!
While in no way comparing myself with this gardener of highest esteem, I thought it would be fun to create a list of my own MUST HAVE plants. I too struggled with keeping the list down to a meager twenty four – for space sake more than anything - we all know full well that there are at least seventy five more plants that I grow within the garden’s repertoire that I would consider MUST HAVE!
And now for a wee bit of fun….. think of it as a way of passing the remaining weeks of February. How many of my twenty four can you name? There is a copy of ‘The Potting Shed Papers’ by Charles Elliott for the one who comes closest! In the event of a tie, whomever has correctly named the highest number of species and cultivars will determine the winner! Send your answers via a comment or an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Last date for submission: March 21st, 2012.