Rewilding the Mind – The Beth Chatto Symposium 2022

ESSEX, UK: The Beth Chatto Education Trust announces the second Beth Chatto Symposium – Rewilding the Mind, at The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, University of Essex, September 1 & 2, 2022.

From taking up gardening to daily walks in the park, the coronavirus lockdowns saw many of us spend more time connecting with nature. Wildlife also thrived in new and unexpected areas of towns and cities as the pace of human activity slowed down.

Following this experience, and with the urgent need to protect our environment in mind, the second Beth Chatto Symposium (which follows the successful inaugural Symposium in 2018) will examine how those who have influence over the use of land and outdoor space can maximise the positive impact that “rewilding the mind” can have on humans, wildlife, and the environment.

Such influencers include architects, developers, ecologists, gardeners, garden designers, growers, landscapers, landscape architects, and planners.

Julia Boulton, chairman of the Beth Chatto Education Trust, explains: “Rewilding is a term frequently being used, and is exciting in its positive success stories – but how does the concept of rewilding work with the use of urban land or space? There can be no doubt that the way we have historically managed urban and public space is unsustainable and requires fundamental change. And that change needs to happen now.

“So, how can we open or alter our minds to prioritise the natural world, enhance biodiversity, and incorporate this within our lives?”

Hosted by garden designer and television presenter Arit Anderson – a familiar face on BBC Gardeners’ World, the Symposium will see a two-day programme of lectures and discussions led by a varied line-up of more than a dozen esteemed and influential experts.

Guest speakers include: Sarah Price, Professor Dave Goulson, Professor Alastair Driver, Dan Pearson OBE, Fergus Garrett, Tom Stuart-Smith, Giacamo Guzzon, Dr Sue Stuart-Smith, Dr Mike Edwards, Dr Gemma Jerome, Errol Reuben Fernandes, John Little, Dr Wei Yang, Jo Mckerr and Ton Muller.

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, says: “For me, rewilding in a gardening sense is about relaxing, slightly letting go of control. Leaving a wild corner, less mowing, rethinking ‘weeds’ as wildflowers. Nature will thank you.”

Dr Gemma Jerome, director of Building with Nature (provider of the UK’s first green infrastructure standards), adds: “Rewilding the mind means remembering that we are all part of nature. At Building with Nature, we champion the intrinsic value of nature – for people’s mental and physical health, holistic wellbeing, spiritual and emotional growth, and community connection.”

Humans’ intrinsic relationship with nature and, specifically, plants, will be one of the many topics of discussion at the Symposium – as will the meaning, purpose, and best practice of ecological and sustainable planting.

“Enormous benefits can be made quickly with the thoughtful use of plants,” explains Julia.

Indeed, it was the late Beth Chatto OBE (1923-2018), founder of the Grade II-listed Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens in Elmstead Market near Colchester, Essex (UK), who pioneered the “right plant, right place” principle.

As Beth insightfully said in her Garden Notebook Foreword (1989): “If you choose plants that are appropriate for their conditions they will repay you by flourishing, harmonising with each other and requiring little attention, because they are in their appropriate environment.”

Julia says: “I think that this resonates because, in the built environment, we have created conditions/situations that, although not ‘mountain sides’ or ‘deserts,’ have similar attributes and there will be plants that are able to grow in those conditions.”

Symposium attendees will be able to draw inspiration from Beth Chatto’s sustainable planting designs because each ticket includes access to an exclusive Evening Garden Party held at the world-famous Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens.

Furthermore, all proceeds from the Symposium will go to The Beth Chatto Education Trust. Set up by Beth in 2015 (when she was 91), the charity offers a wide range of horticulture education opportunities to people of all ages.

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

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