Granddaughter of Beth Chatto opens new garden on campus

July 2017

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

The granddaughter of award-winning plants-woman Beth Chatto has opened Writtle University College’s new Mediterranean Garden.

Julia Boulton, who is Director of the Beth Chatto Gardens, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony to the garden, a stunning new feature in front of the University College’s Main Building in Writtle, near Chelmsford.

The event, on 29 June, was part of the University College’s first ever Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) awards ceremony, which was attended by more than 50 students and their families.

Julia gave out the awards to the students, who have completed the work on the new Mediterranean garden which has taken three years to finish.

It was designed by RHS tutor Christine Lavelle whose design was inspired by the planting in Beth Chatto's gravel garden in Elmstead Market, near Colchester; RHS Garden Hyde Hall, near Chelmsford; as well as the Cambridge Botanical Gardens.

Christine said: “I was very pleased that Julia could open this new garden for us, which, like the Beth Chatto Gardens, demonstrates how plants that enjoy dry conditions can be grown together to create a dramatic landscape.

“The garden has gravel pathways which meander through the scheme, with rocks or trees providing focus and a reason to turn a corner. The planting includes Stipa gigantea and Verbena bonariensis which combine to give an exotic feel to the grounds at Writtle University College. There is a focus on the winter interest in the garden by planting species such as Bergenias and evergreen Euphorbias.

“Altogether, this has created an attractive new garden in front of the Main Building at the University College, which demonstrates the practical horticultural skills that can be learnt on our RHS courses and gives students a new area to relax in and to enjoy our grounds.

“Our students benefit from being able to practise their skills and increase their horticultural knowledge by using our 220 hectare estate. Julia said that she was amazed and very impressed by their work over the last three years.”

The campus at Writtle University College boasts informal lawns, naturalised bulbs and wild flowers, 1,300 different types of trees and 2,500 varieties of shrubs displayed in more then 165 borders, plus impressive sub-tropical glasshouses. There are over 10,000 plants and 70,000 bulbs meaning the campus thrives throughout the seasons.

The Mediterranean Garden is the latest addition to the themed landscaped gardens on campus, which include the Hot and Spicy Garden, the Rose Garden and the Centenary Garden.

Thanks to Provender Nurseries, which supplied plants for the Garden, meeting 50% of the cost of the plants.

• To find out more about our RHS courses, please visit