A WORLD-renowned garden centre founded by famous garden designer Beth Chatto has made 11 redundancies amid falling visitor numbers.

The famous Beth Chatto Gardens, in Elmstead Market, house a beautiful array of plants across seven and a half acres as well as a nursery and a tearoom.

The family-run business had been anticipating another successful year,until the coronavirus pandemic struck in March.

In a statement, Julia Boulton, Beth’s granddaughter and the centre’s managing director, said it had been a “painful” process.

“We have, sadly, had to make 11 of our tearoom and administration team redundant,” she said.

“This has been a painful process for all concerned and we are sorry to have to let these loyal and hardworking people go. We will miss them terribly.”

In May, garden centres became the first businesses to be allowed to reopen in an easing of lockdown restrictions.

The gardens offered a booking system, but was forced to reduce opening hours and close its tearoom due to a lack of visitors and income.

Braintree and Witham Times:

  • Beth Chatto welcomes the Queen to the gardens 

Julia said: “The harsh reality of the impact of Covid-19 is that, through no-one’s fault, our visitor numbers are down 47 per cent and we are projecting to be way down on income this year.

“The directors and I decided we must protect the core of the business, go back to basics and concentrate on producing plants and maintaining my grandmother’s garden to the highest possible standards so we are in good shape when things return to normal.

“We hope, by making many cost savings and regrettably reducing our number of staff, we have done enough to keep us afloat.”

She added: “Although the gardens are internationally recognised, local support is vital for the survival of our business and we thank our loyal customers for their continued support.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

  • Beth Chatto Gardens is home to one of most popular garden centres in the area

Beth Chatto , who also authored several books on gardening, began work on the stunning gardens in 1960.