Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Beth Chatto Gardens

The Beth Chatto Gardens, located in Essex, United Kingdom, are the work of award-winning plantswoman, Beth Chatto. In 1960, she began planting a series of gardens in a rather inhospitable patch of British terrain. Naysayers said it couldn't be done in this place of nutrient-deprived soil and less than twenty inches of rain per year. But she followed her mantra, "the right plant for the right place," and created lovely gardens. The Gravel Garden is a shining example. She used one of her parking lots, with its well-draining soil, to study which flowers tolerated little water. More than twenty years later, allium, iris, Oriental poppies, catmint, and sage stand bright and beautiful in this place.

Other gardens include the Water Garden with four ponds, and a Woodland Garden, which shows visitors that beautiful gardens can be created in shady spots.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Cost of admission is 6.95 British pounds.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Derek Jarman Gardens

Located in the United Kingdom in Dungeness, on the coast of Kent, the Derek Jarman Gardens surround Prospect Cottage, which was once the home of Avante-gard film director, Derek Jarman (1942 - 1994). The garden is most unusual, in that it was created in a desert landscape. It's flat, bleak, and barren - a stark contrast to the nearby rolling green hills and farmland. Basically, it's on the equivalent of a sand bar.

The garden started out by accident. Jarman bought the four-room fisherman's house in 1986. He began using bits of stones and driftwood as outlines of the property. Then he experimented with local plants to see what could survive in the inhospitable terrain. He found that oxeye daisies, California poppies, and sea kale worked. He added things that had washed up on the shore - rope, metal, driftwood, and created sculptures that served as focal points. In the end, Jarman created a colorful and eye-appealing area that surrounds his tar-black cottage.

Visitors may not enter the house, as it is privately owned, but visitors can carefully tread around the garden exterior. The best time to visit is in June and July. There is no charge to see the gardens.