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Beneath the Surface – The Beth Chatto Symposium 2024

by | 15 May 24 | Nature & Biodiversity, News | 0 comments

The Beth Chatto Education Trust announces Beneath the Surface – the third Beth Chatto Symposium, at The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, University of Essex, August 29 and 30, 2024.

The Symposium will explore the subterranean world of soils, delving into many of the lesser-known factors that affect the way people work with soil.

New information is continuously being discovered about the underground realm and with that the solid food web is becoming of increasing importance for new approaches to cultivation.

Julia Boulton, head of The Beth Chatto Education Trust, says: “Because of the importance of what’s going on beneath the surface, an understanding of this space is essential in order to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

The event will centre around three key strands, these are:



New research into underexplored aspects of the natural and subterranean world, including fungi, plants and bacteria.


Bigger-picture ideas about ecology, ecosystems, habitats and the relationship between all the lifeforms within them.


Practical ideas about ecological horticulture, discussions about methods and best practice, and takeaway tips for gardeners and designers.


The Symposium’s two-day programme of lectures and discussions is being led by a varied line-up of more than 20 guest speakers and panellists from around the world.

Line-up includes Merlin Sheldrake, biologist, speaker and author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our World, Alys Fowler, gardeners, presenter and award-winning journalist, Nigel Dunnett, professor of planting designer and urban horticulture at the University of Sheffield, and Darryl Moore – award-winning garden and landscape designer and writer.

Moore, who has played a part in organising the Symposium, says: “The realm beneath the surface is mostly unseen but the actions of all of the different types of bacteria and fungi, as they live their lives, are essential for plants and the important functions they provide for the planet, from creating oxygen to cycling carbon, water and nitrogen … all of which are important for making it a habitable place for our species and most of the others we share it with.”

Beneath the Surface is following the success of two previous Beth Chatto Symposiums – 2018’s Ecological Planting in the 21st Century and 2022’s Rewilding the Mind.

This event includes an optional third day of tours and talks on Saturday, 31 August, at Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens in Elmstead Market near Colchester, Essex.

All proceeds from the Symposium will go towards The Beth Chatto Education Trust, which offers a range of horticulture education opportunities to people of all ages.

To purchase Symposium tickets, or for more information, visit:

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