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Open Tues–Sat, closed Sun & Mon. Winter closure (fully closed): mid-Nov–early Feb. Please see website for opening times.


Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

Elmstead Market

6 miles east of Colchester.

7 acres

01206 822007

Visit website


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (Member 1 only) applies Oct–mid-Nov when garden closes for winter


  • access
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Café
  • Children's activities
  • facilities
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Guide dogs only
  • Parking
  • Picnics allowed
  • Plants for sale
  • Restaurant
  • Toilets


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

About the garden

Owned by
The Beth Chatto Gardens

Beth Chatto Gardens free access to RHS members will now be October–mid-November.

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
  • Clematis
  • Conifers
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Ferns
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Hellebores
  • Hemerocallis
  • Herbs
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Orchids
  • Primulas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Spring bulbs
  • Waterlilies

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.