We entered Beth Chatto's woodland garden by passing between two tall oaks, up which had been trained climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, right). The effect was one of a living gate, festooned with white flowers even above our heads. It telegraphed that we were crossing a threshold into a special place.
Like all good woodland gardens, Beth's uses light and shade to make its point. We wandered the dirt paths noticing how gaps in the tree canopy created pools of light on the woodland floor that pricked out and highlighted certain plants, such as the glaucous Hosta and small Cornus controversa 'Variegata.'
I have a woodland as part of my property in Virginia, and I would love to start cultivating it into a garden inspired by this space. Of course, I'd have to invest in acres of deer fencing first! I know there isn't the same deer pressure in most of the U.K. as there is in the U.S., but I would still be curious to know how pests such as rabbits are managed in Beth's garden. Perhaps the garden is now mature enough that it can withstand some grazing pressure and still survive.
A beautiful Cornus kousa and geranium combination, below.
I liked this characterful Acer griseum, above, dead center, and below, at right. It's one of my favorite small trees.
I loved this all-green, textural planting combination of Kirengoshoma palmata, the Sensitive fern, Onoclea sensibilis, Viburnum sp. and Hydrangea sp. blending into the background.
The views looking out of the woodland garden were just as interesting, as the dense shade made windows into the brighter, more open areas of the garden beyond.
Up next: Out of the dark and into the reservoir garden.