TRIBUTES have been paid to a stalwart of the gardening world, who has passed away aged 94.

World-renowned gardener and writer Beth Chatto died peacefully at home with her family by her side on Sunday evening.

Mrs Chatto, who was born on June 27, 1923, is famed for her magnificent gardens off Clacton Road, Elmstead Market.

Gardeners' World host Monty Don previously described Mrs Chatto as "the world's greatest living gardener" and she was also described as a heroine of gardener Carol Klein.

Monty today tweeted: "Any death of a loved one is sad, but Beth Chatto lived to a great age and enriched the lives of so many of us with her writing, teaching and incomparable garden - so let's celebrate a life supremely well lived."

Mrs Chatto began work on her gardens, then just an overgrown wasteland of brambles, in 1960 and went on to win ten gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in the space of just 11 years - missing the one year due to ill health.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Magnificent - The Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market

A statement by Beth Chatto Gardens said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Beth Chatto, the acclaimed gardener, writer and plantswoman.

"In a gardening career spanning six decades, Beth Chatto’s many awards included ten successive gold medals at RHS Chelsea, the RHS’s highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour, and the RHS Lawrence Medal both in 1987, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 from the Garden Writers Guild (now the Garden Media Guild), and two honorary doctorates, from Essex University in 1987, and from Anglia Ruskin University in 2009.

"In 2002, Beth Chatto was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours, and her most recent honour came in 2014 when she received The John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Garden Designers.

"Beth’s spirit will live on in the gardens and her gardening ethos will continue through the work of the Beth Chatto Education Trust, established to inspire the next generation of gardeners."

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Gold - Beth Chatto pictured at Chelsea Flower Show in 1983

Mrs Chatto was born in Good Easter, near Chelmsford, and attended Colchester Girls’ High School after which she trained to be a teacher at Hockerill College, Bishop’s Stortford, from 1940 to 1943.

She met fruit farmer Andrew Chatto in the early 1940s and the pair married in 1943 before moving to Braiswick, Colchester, where their two daughters, Diana and Mary, were born in 1946 and 1948. Mr Chatto died in 1999.

In the early 1950s, neighbour Pamela Underwood, who ran a nursery, encouraged Mrs Chatto to become involved with flower arranging and they became founder members of the Colchester Flower Club.

By the late 1950s, Mrs Chatto persuaded her husband to build a house on part of his fruit farm at Elmstead Market.

Despite the site being dry in places and boggy in others, Mrs Chatto went on to create one of the country's most famous gardens.

Mrs Chatto leaves her two daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

There will be a private funeral with a memorial service to follow.