07 May Beth Chatto commemorative bench unveiled in Essex
The life of award-winning plantswoman Beth Chatto OBE and her support of the National Garden Scheme have been commemorated at her internationally famous garden in Elmstead Market, Essex with a specially commissioned carved, Welsh slate bench.
The idea for marking the very special life and career of Beth Chatto came from Ed Fairey, a talented gardener in his own right who opens his garden in Ardleigh for the National Garden Scheme every year. Ed is tireless in his support for the charity and his Chelmsford-based financial services firm Fairey Associates generously supports the National Garden Scheme in Essex. Aware of the beautiful works created by the acclaimed letter carver and sculptor Martin Cook, Ed suggested that the charity commission a special bench for the occasion.
Martin comes from a family of carvers dating back to 1730 and the work he has created is a beautifully understated slate bench with the inscriptions ‘Beth Chatto 1923-2018 A great friend of The National Garden Scheme’ along one edge and ‘Grow contented plants and you will find peace among them’ along the other. The bench sits within the peace and beauty of the garden which Beth Chatto and her husband created and will be enjoyed by the many visitors who continue to visit.
In his opening remarks, George Plumptre, National Garden Scheme Chief Executive, commented on the kindness and patience he had always received from Beth and how, during the 50 years of opening her garden for the National Garden Scheme she had not only raised in the region of £80,000 for the charity but also given enjoyment to tens of thousands of visitors who have seen the garden, each benefitting from the knowledge she had gained from creating a garden with the very specific growing conditions of this part of north east Essex in mind.
The Gardens remain a family-run business, managed by Beth’s granddaughter, Julia Boulton, and continue to open for the National Garden Scheme twice a year. The next opening in aid of the charity is Sunday 29 September but the gardens open daily and as well as providing a wonderful opportunity to see the famous planting, there is a large and impressive plant nursery, tearooms, gift shop and educational facilities for the expanding range of events and courses held there.
The National Garden Scheme distributed £3 million in March 2019 to their beneficiaries thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors. Essex alone raised £145,000 in 2018 with beneficiaries including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.