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Beth Chatto: RHS Chelsea Flower Show

  • Beth Chatto with her first RHS show exhibit, at RHS Westminster Hall

    1975

  • Sketch plan by Beth Chatto for her first RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

    1976

  • Plant list for Beth Chatto's first RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

    1976

  • Sketch plan by Beth Chatto for a RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

    c.1986 or 7

  • Beth Chatto's stand at Chelsea, possibly the same year as the undated sketch plan

    1986 or 1987

  • Beth Chatto at her stand at Chelsea

    c.1986 or 1987

  • Card from George and Olivia Harrison, sent to Beth Chatto after her announcement that she would miss the flower show that year.

    1982

    With kind permission of Olivia Harrison

In 1975, Pamela Underwood persuaded Beth to exhibit at the RHS Hall, Westminster. After much discussion by the judges she won a Silver-Gilt Medal, breaking with convention by displaying uncultivated plants. One judge wanted her disqualified, claiming all the plants were weeds!

She was invited to exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show the following year. For her stand, Beth created a microcosm of her garden, divided into plants for dry, sunny conditions and those for damp, with hidden pots for a naturalistic effect.

Although she only won another Silver-Gilt, this marked a turning point in Beth’s career. The summer of 1976 was exceptionally hot. Impressed by Beth’s stand, Graham Rose wrote a Sunday Times article about her drought-tolerant planting, which transformed her business into a national brand. She was offered a job as George Harrison’s gardener and an RHS judging role (declining both). The next year she won the first of ten consecutive Chelsea Golds, going on to publish eight books and countless articles, giving international lecture tours.