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Beth Chatto obituary

Influential gardener and writer who emphasised the importance of choosing the right plant for the right place

The distinguished nurserywoman Beth Chatto, who has died aged 94, was one of the most influential horticulturists of the past 50 years. Well known and respected for the nursery of unusual plants she started in Essex in 1967, she was also an inspirational writer and lecturer whose great theme was the importance of providing garden plants with an environment as close as possible to their native habitat.

During the 1970s, she won 10 successive gold medals at the RHS Chelsea flower show, where she introduced ecological ideas into garden design, demonstrating the possibilities of natural plant groupings, while also achieving the highest aesthetic standards. In those days nurseries arranged their plants for maximum visual impact regardless of differing plant needs. Chatto’s approach was a revelation and immediately established her significance as a guide to better and more environmentally friendly gardening techniques. She stressed the importance of looking at the whole plant, foliage as well as flowers, and judging the quality of a plant by observing it throughout the seasons.

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