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Open From 10am daily.


Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

Elmstead Market

6 miles east of Colchester.

7 acres (2.8ha)

01206 822007

Visit website


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (Member 1 only) - November-March.


  • Baby changing facilities
  • Café
  • Disabled access
  • Disabled facilities
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Guide dogs only
  • Parking
  • Plants for sale
  • Restaurant
  • Toilets


  • Autumn colour
  • Bog garden
  • Champion trees
  • Gravel garden
  • Herbaceous border
  • Pond or lake
  • Water garden
  • Woodland

About the garden

Owned by
Beth Chatto

The Beth Chatto Gardens was established in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows, it has been transformed into an informal garden harmonising with the surrounding East Anglian countryside. The gardens are an inspiration to anyone who visits them – the art of planting at its best. The world-famous drought-resistant Gravel Garden began in 1992 as an experiment to replace sun-scorched grass with a living garden of drought-tolerant plants, without resorting to artificial irrigation, coupled with the lowest rainfall in the UK and free-draining gravel soil.  

A short walk down onto the cool, emerald-green grass surrounding the Water Garden is like walking into another climate. The planting here is a complete contrast to the hot, arid Gravel Garden, with a wide selection of lush, moisture-loving plants. The Woodland Garden was created after the great storm of 1987. The trees that remained – mostly 100-year-old oaks – were underplanted with shade-loving plants from around the temperate world to create a natural effect and furnish the area throughout the year. More recently, the former reservoir garden, sitting on an area of heavier, clay-based soil, has been redeveloped into an exciting new planting of perennials, accessible by winding pathways, allowing the plant enthusiast to get in and up close, building on the garden's inspiring collection of unusual plants. 

The extensive nursery offers a range of plants, the majority propagated from the gardens or surrounding stock beds. A gift shop offering a selection of gifts, books, cards and garden-related items is complemented by the Tearoom at the Gardens, which offers seasonal lunches with freshly prepared food, and specialises in delights such as home-made scones, irresistible sausage rolls and a large range of tempting home-made cakes and the garden's own blend of coffee.

Plants of special interest

  • Agapanthus
  • Alliums
  • Alpines
  • Asters
  • Autumn bulbs
  • Cacti & succulents
  • Camellias
  • Clematis
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Ferns
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Hellebores
  • Hemerocallis
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Orchids
  • Primulas
  • Rhododendrons/azaleas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Spring bulbs
  • Waterlilies
  • Wisteria

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.