Stephen Studd Photography

Travel Gardens Plants

Malvern Spring Gardening Show May 2011

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Well the show is over and the processing in Lightroom 3 has begun. This years show was blessed with good weather and some fantastic show gardens. A 4.45am start to the day paid dividends with the most beautiful sunrises at 5.45am. Sun rising perfectly casting low warm light onto some of the gardens. Perfect conditions only thing to contend with was the wind. But this actually worked on a couple of the gardens, especially the Chris Beardshaw/Bradstone scholarship gardens, where the theme was “Atom”, marking the UN`s International Year of Chemistry.

Graduate Gardeners took Gold and Best in the Show Gardens, for their garden entitled “A Garden for Life”. The garden was centred around an A frame house with wildflowers at the front and a very practical grow your own veg patch to the side. On a photography technical side Lee Filters .6ND soft grad was used to balance the sky and foreground. White marquees were taken out of the windows by Jaincotech, thanks.

Gold & Best in Show, "A Garden for Life" designed by Stuart Gibbs (Graduate Gardeners Ltd)

It really looked like it had always been there!

The details were also amazing

The veg garden

The other Gold Winner was  “My Very Local Veg Garden” designed by Hannah Genders (Hannah Genders Ltd). This was a garden that touched me as Hannah set herself the challenge of sourcing all materials for the garden within cycling distance of her home in Worcestershire. On my own organic allotment all the raised beds are made from slab, wood that isn`t used in the timber industry. For a book commission “The Medicine Garden” by Rachel Corby I too set myself a mission of photographing as many of the Medicinal Plants from a 5 mile radius of my house. The only ones not possible to do were by the coast.

I love the ethos of making an amazingly productive garden from recycled, reused materials!

Awarded Gold "My Very Local Veg Garden"; garden designed by Hannah Genders (Hannah Genders Ltd)

Super styling; and who wouldn`t want to sit around the centrepiece table and tuck into a  meal made from the produce at picking distance from your chair.

Fantastic veg garden!

The Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship gardens sponsored by Bradstone threw up some delights and some maverick designs!

My personal favourite was “In the Balance” designed by Caroline E Butler. I remember being immersed in the photography when Caroline came up for a chat, I was in the zone. Caroline asked what I was doing and I explained I was a garden photographer and that i was spending alot of time on the garden to get it right and I remember saying “which is a good sign”.

The next day Caroline at the awards ceremony was handed the Chris Beardshaw scholarship!

This first image was where I thought the windy conditions aided me. I liked the concept of the mathematical equations and what they meant to me. On going back the next morning at 5.30 it was windy but with good light. I had thought overnight what the equations were representing and to me fluidity and movement.

Chris Beardshaw scholarship winner; "In the Balance"; garden designed by Caroline E Butler

The Fibonacci numbers integer sequence is a mathematical equation that Carolines planting of Sempervivum in the nucleus displays well.

Great use of Bradstone materials

Another scholarship winner was Paul Cantello`s garden “Breathe” designed around the oxygen atom.  The raised platforms I liked with their thought out metal rod bordering.

Awarded Silver Gilt Flora and Chris Beardshaw Scholarship "Breathe" ; Malvern Spring Gardening Show 2011 garden designed by Paul Cantello (Batello Garden Design)

It also displayed lovely tight planting, no room for weeds.

Another scholarship winner was Rachel Phillips “Budding Scientists”. I loved the structure with the turf roof.

"Budding Scientists" Awarded Silver Gilt Flora & Chris Beardshaw scolarship, garden designed by Rachel Phillips & Designs With Nature

Awarded Gold best Trade stand and best in show was  the garden from Garden Interest designed by Roger Higgins. I had seen this garden earlier in the week and wanted to get there before any light hit it. There at 5.45am with the Malvern winds blowing I needed a 4 second exposure to get the waterfall cascade right and patience needed for a lull in the wind to keep the planting still.

Patience paid off and I must say the sound of the waterfall made me really want this in my own garden.

Trade Stand Gold and Best in Show awarded to Garden Interest Landscape Design and Construction designed by Robin Higgins

Fantastic attention to detail;

I did want to sit in the deckchair sipping a warm cup of tea from a flask listening to the seagulls and waves lapping the breaks and shore below at the “Westhaven School by the Sea” garden designed by  Mark Walker of Walkers Garden Retreats.

The Gold Schools garden went to a garden designed by Pershore college students with Jake Peloni`s design. What a central feature the pebble globe. Plus it lent itself well to being photographed at midday, always a bonus.

Awarded Gold "The Astrology Garden"; garden designed by Jake Poloni and Pershore College

I also really liked the pathways which one of the students told me were made from old school locker doors a wonderful use of recycling. Plus they rusted really well fitting in perfectly.

As this is a garden photography blog then I must show a few of the gardens that leant themselves well to photograph, which is something garden designers at shows miss sometimes. To gain publicity it must be easy to photograph.

I really liked Keni Lee`s “From Laozi to Heisenberg”. After a recent month long photography trip to Shanghai I really got his garden. I thought it was very Zen and Tao. I thought the low lying planting with tall rocks reminded the viewer of the mountains and from the top of them looking onto the landscape below. The pathways zig zag to keep the evil spirits out. There are ying and yang elements in the garden.

"From Laozi to Heisenberg" garden designed by Keni Lee

Circles worked well;

Rhea Lyn Parkes “The Rain Garden” was one of my favourite shots of the show purely for the simplicity of the grasses against the ochre wall at dawn. Something to look at and contemplate.

Another slow exposure shot that worked well was Lindsay Warwicks bubbley “Chemistry… all that matters” garden with the effervescing test tubes.

Finally “Collision” by Christopher Tessier. His simplicity and the spiral rill I really enjoyed and nowadays thanks to Photoshop the distracting cordon around the garden could be removed thanks to my friends at Jaincotech! (This shot would not be here with it in!)

Like to drive away in this car? “The Morgan Garden” designed by Craig Hamilton Smith in association with Morgan Motor Company.

A really big thankyou to all the designers, gardeners, landscapers mavericks for a truly great show. Wishing you all the best. A really big thankyou to Sharon Gilbert from the Three Counties Showground Press Office for running things so magnificently. Finally to the plants the sun and all people passionate about gardens!

Next blog coming soon will be magnificent plants from the Floral pavillion, here`s a taster!

Mecenopsis Sheldonii Lingholm grown by Kayes Garden Nursery


Author: Stephen Studd Photography

Stephen graduated from LCP in London in 1987 with a 2:1 BA Honours degree in photography. Since then he has travelled the world as a professional freelance travel & garden photographer. His photography has been published in many areas around the globe; from front cover of National Geographic magazine, to countless travel books, brochures and print media. His work has also been used in many advertising campaigns, with clients such as Fiat, Citigroup, Caribou Coffee, Expedia, BBC and countless others and his photography has picked up numerous international awards.. Stephen leads travel photography holidays and tours to Burma, Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Vietnam & the USA. He also leads Bluebell photography workshops in Gloucestershire and landscape photography workshops in the Gower, Wales. Stephen can be contacted for commissions via his photography website.

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