Leave me a comment about what your passion is, and how you let it contribute to your “legacy“. Read on to find out more!
I am turning my attention this week to a topic that I am so attracted to but, like so many others, tend to fail miserably at: gardening. But what brought me to this topic and in turn our guest this week, Beth Chatto, deserves a little bit of unpacking.
I often think about my “legacy“. I think about the “impact” that I am having on the world and how I will be remembered after I am gone. Of course there are the most straight forward things:
- I have friends who I believe that I am making an impact on, and who definitely have an impact on me.
- I have family who make me feel loved and to whom I try to give all of my love and good energy.
- I work with colleagues who inspire me and I believe I inspire in turn.
As we get older, that question must surely feature more prominently in our minds. It’s scary though, because as we age we lose our family members. We stop working so we lose contact with colleagues. Inevitably, in the end, we start losing friends to illness, disease or misfortune. So what is the legacy left behind then? Children is one answer, sure. But what if you don’t have children? Or you have also had the severe misfortune of losing them or losing contact with them?
It starts feeling all a little too big. But I think it’s important to realise a few things.
- It is still your legacy that you helped those around you when and as they needed.
- Every action you do in your life has value. Every conversation with a stranger on the train, every message checking in on a friend you haven’t seen in a while, every hug you have given in affection, reconciliation, support or happiness.
- These days, we all have some form of electronic social footprint. So the news articles we share, the think pieces we write, the posts we put up about our lived experience, they all matter and they all contribute to shaping others’ life views.
- If we are mindful in how we navigate our life, we are leaving smatterings of “legacy” as we go, just by virtue of living and engaging with our society.
Our long term legacy is the tricky bit, and I think this is usually achieved by following a passion. For Beth Chatto, our feature for today, that passion was gardening.
Beth never formally trained in horticulture, but joined her husband in his passion (he was a fruit grower) and soon became a neighbourhood hit as she was able to grow lovely garden beds in seemingly inhospitable conditions. She wrote books, maintained friendships with artists and writers and by all accounts was a well maintained, exemplary community member. I would note that it absolutely seems Beth was blessed with many things in life: a partner who shared and encouraged her passion, exposure to people with influence, and clearly some form of financial safety net that allowed for the scenes such as this:
“Her garden and nursery, on the gravelly soil at Elmstead Market, soon became a mecca for keen gardeners. Her willingness to share her own eloquently expressed beliefs and her personal charisma made visits unforgettable.” (source)
I acknowledge her privilege, but I do not begrudge her for it! Beth created a “gravel garden” in a car park! She seemed intent on taking the harshest of environments and inserting beauty and life. Her whole life centered around gardening; promoting and encouraging others to garden.
I feel like Beth is a fabulous example of someone who has discovered her passion and allowed it to define her life, and ultimately, her legacy.
- She used her passion to give her a place in her community.
- She used her passion to educate those around her and give them a feeling of connection.
- She inspired others to start their own gardens by distributing her knowledge through books, conversations and engagement.
- She leaves a legacy in the footprint on the gardening community, but also on this planet, inserting greenery in a world so often brutalised by concrete, construction and artificial creation.
I found reading about Beth and her life gave me space to reflect on how I let my own passions define, influence and express themselves in my life. I am slowly giving myself the space to let this happen, but I still have a ways to go.
If you have a “budding” passion for gardening after reading this, head to the following sites to get started:
Honestly, Pinterest is your friend! Just start your search and let the influencers guide you! 🙂
Thank you to the following sites:
2 thoughts on “Beth Chatto”
Fortune smiled when I was able to meet Beth Chatto and visit her gardens. She was all you said and much more. She definitely made an impact on my life. I felt if she could produce such beauty in such hostile conditions, I should be able to make something lovely on our good Indiana soil! And so I did…..
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What a beautiful blog you maintain!! Thank you for reaching out to me, I am so glad you had engagement with Beth and she inspired you to keep working on your own hobby passion pursuit and legacy. I look forward to delving further into your blog soon!