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David Ward steps down from Beth Chatto role

by | 10 Nov 22 | News

Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens’ garden and nursery director, David Ward, 64, has retired from the Grade-II listed site after nearly 40 years of service.

The late Beth Chatto OBE VMH sometimes referred to David as her “birthday present” as he started working for her on 27 June – her birthday.

David worked for Beth during the creation of both the Woodland and Gravel Garden at Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens in Elmstead Market near Colchester, Essex. It was David who steered Beth away from watering the Gravel Garden in a period of severe drought – reminding her that it was an experiment to see which plants survive such a hostile environment.

Along with the senior leadership team, David has worked with Beth’s granddaughter Julia Boulton for the past 10 years, helping her to secure and develop the independent family-owned business and focusing on building a horticultural team. He has also overseen the re-publishing of Beth’s books Drought Resistant Planting and The Green Tapestry as well as her beloved Handbook.

Julia says: “David Ward’s vast horticultural knowledge will be greatly missed. He leaves behind a wonderful team whose members have benefited enormously from his experience. It was his wish to step down at this point in his life and we must honour this. He often said with a wry smile: ‘Who knows what I will do when I reach retirement age?’ Well, we wish you a very happy retirement Dave and if you ever feel the need to propagate some plants – or find a snowdrop or two – we would love to see you.”

In 2023 it would have been Beth’s 100th Birthday, so to mark the occasion, the team at Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens will be hosting a series of horticultural events, including lectures and a garden party. More information to follow or visit

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