The month of May sees both Malvern Spring Festival and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, two great gatherings for horticulturists. Fortunately this year I had access to the show ground at Chelsea on the Sunday, a blessing as the weather for the press day on Monday looked like it was going to be wet and windy. On the Sunday the gardens are receiving their finishing touches and it is usually quite a frantic time. Not so this year as most of the gardens seemed very complete when I arrived in the morning.
This was the start of my 4 day photo shoot at Chelsea with 5.30am early access for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when the light is usually much kinder for photographers.
Walking round finding where each garden designer had their garden this year I came across the one designed by James Basson for L’Occitaine. Perhaps it was the Monet’esque bright red poppies that stopped me in my tracks and the feeling of being transported to the south of France.
Tufa stone was used to great effect in the garden.
I was next transported to the Middle East and it’s wonderful architecture and gardens. In this garden designed by Kamelia Bin Zaal white marble was used for the hard landscaping.
Both these gardens seemed to be at their best in the bright sunlight, a time I don’t usually photograph gardens.
The Artisans gardens are usually a better bet to go to when the light is too bright as they are usually more shaded with dappled sunlight..
In the front of the garden who spotted the evader in front of the bombed stone church? Such a clever piece made by John Everiss himself.
There was the beautiful, if a bit samey Japanese garden ‘Edo no Niwa’ designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara wh0 uses stone to great calming effect.
The designer himself.
A garden I was drawn back to again and again was the one designed by Darren Hawkes.
Perhaps this was due to the use of stone from Bodmin for the granite boulder seating. If you ever get chance visit the Cheesewring on Bodmin moor and find one of the naturally weathered granite stone boulder seats there and shut your eyes for a while, but be prepared for lift off.
I wondered whether this piece in the garden was inspired by the Men-an-Tol stone circle in Cornwall.
Bodmin is home to the Hurlers stone circle and the Cheesewring a place I have been drawn back to over the years. The Cheesewring with it’s balanced granite boulders is a favourite place to photograph. On reflection power places built with stone seem to have a big magnetic attraction for me!
Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth garden was another garden with giant stones as a feature, this time gritstone.
The oak boardwalk started between two gritstone boulders.
Charlie Albone’s garden had some beautiful stonework in it, the sandstone path and columns had lovely patterns in it.
At the end of the garden was a well crafted dry stone fire pit and wall.
Charlie’s garden had to have the most talked about plant of all the show gardens, this beautiful Protea illuminated in early morning sunlight.
Matthew Keightleys’s garden had conical stone pillars sourced from Cumbria supporting the porch of the house and a stone waterfall to the side.
Finally it was good to see Harry and David Rich’s garden receive a gold medal, they both know how to design gardens with natural stone. Here they are sat on their dry stone bench.
Part 2 will look at rust and cedar wood at Chelsea.
For commissions my garden and travel photography website is: www.stephenstuddphotography.com
My travel photography holidays & UK flower photography workshops website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com