Beth Chatto reissues classic planting guide

Beth Chatto Gardens has published a completely revised and updated new paperback edition of its handbook, Beth Chatto's Descriptive List of Unusual Plants.

Chatto’s guiding principle is that all plants can thrive if grown in the appropriate conditions for their variety and species, turning what at first appear difficult conditions into favourable ones, regardless of the whether the conditions appear to be too shady, too dry, too damp or too sunny.

She designed the handbook to be a practical tool for professional gardeners and interested amateurs alike.

The new handbook groups together plants by their broadest categorisation (A-Z list) in which Beth Chatto describes the plants and also the conditions under which they will not only survive, but thrive and be at their best.

In conjunction with the A-Z method, the first section of the handbook details the types of conditions or criteria the gardener is likely to encounter or require, and then then lists those plants most suitable to grow in them. For example plants that are small and low growing which require hot, dry conditions. Or shade loving plants that will grow to medium to large sizes. Or types of plant that love waterside or boggy conditions, or clay soil. There are also lists of plants attractive to bees and butterflies, for seed heads or cutting and even those plants suited to making pot pourri.

This approach enables gardeners to put together quickly a planting plan.

Great Dixter head gardener Fergus Garrett said: "Beth Chatto is one of the most influential gardeners of all time. Her handbooks are packed with beautiful descriptions. Seeing the plant through her eyes makes them precious to every gardener and plant lover."

Beth Chatto Gardens managing director Julia Boulton said: "The new edition of the handbook is literally back by popular demand. We’ve had loads of visitors asking for copies so we thought it was about time to update it and bring it out as a professionally-produced paperback.

"However, while it looks a little different, it works on exactly the same practical basis as the former Handbooks. This approach is much admired and liked by its readers, who find it is simply the best and most efficient way of finding the right plants for the right places in their gardens."

The 1st edition appeared in the mid-1970s. This update consists of 168 pages and is available to buy online at for £9.95 (including postage and packaging), and is also on sale at Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market, Essex.

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