This was my first visit to Cardiff RHS show and won`t be the last. The date of the show coincided with National Gardening Week.
Having previously lived in the Mumbles for seven years I am familiar with this part of the world and its weather. Moving away from Wales was tough as there is such spectacular landscape and people. Arriving on the Thursday, build up day, I had a little look around the show gardens then headed straight up the A470 towards Brecon for an afternoon in nature around the foothills of Pen Y Fan. What a beautiful afternoon it was, sun, showers, hail, rainbows and really clear fresh air, blowing away any cobwebs and making the soul feel whole and alive also remembering why I had loved living in Wales.
My walk up in the Brecon Beacons made me think of all the elements that make up garden photography, which to me are landscape, portrait and travel photography. I really enjoy photographing show gardens as I like their transient nature and admire all the hard work and thought that has gone in to making them for that short period of time that they are there.
As a professional garden photographer I am asked what do you do when there is no sunshine. The answer being it really doesn`t matter as there are photo opportunities in all weather, much the same as in landscape photography, though dull battleship grey blanket cloud with fine mizzle is the least favourite!
Having seen the weather forecast on the Thursday I knew I was to be blessed with some changeable weather which would keep me on my toes. Also as an outdoor photographer for over 20 years you get a good feeling about how your next dawn will be and I was looking forward to my 5.30am start.
What a beauty it was, the air still and at sunrise that beautiful orange glow with some dark clouds hovering around, a good start.
“Naturalistic” a garden designed by Harry Rich of Rich Landscapes reminded me of my afternoon walk up at Pen Y Fan as it had beautifully built curved Brecon dry stone walls and little undulating mounds. The garden also had wave shaped hand crafted hazel hurdles on some of the boundaries reminiscent of the shape of Pen Y Fan.
Harry`s garden was awarded Best in Show. It was a garden that could be viewed from all four sides. To the back of the garden the Box balls, Dicentra and Hosta had great shape and colour when photographed backlit in early morning light.
There was an intimate wooden seating and fire area on top of reclaimed oak timber boards towards the back of the garden.
“Off the Shelf” designed by Gaynor Witchard whose concept was to design a low maintenance contemporary garden with materials that could literally be brought “off the shelf” from garden centres or builders merchants did so with style.
The polished sandstone really lifted the light levels.
“Regeneration” designed by Dewin Designs, Jane Grehan & David Lewis embodied the saying reduce, reuse, recycle as it was a garden made from reused materials and was awarded Silver gilt. On my own organic allotment I use reused materials so I really related to this garden.
The boundary was made from sanded and painted pallets, planted to soften its look and drilled wooden logs added for solitary bee homes. The shape of the garden was based around the unfurling fern in spring.
The water feature was on two levels made from off cuts from Welsh roofing slate and had a great old spade water outlet with curved seats made from old scaffold planks sat on top of old grates.
“A Growing Community”by LLandaff North Residents Associaition with Cardiff Council designed by Stephanie Wilkins was a garden about community. It was designed to bring community together by using unused space and after consulting the community an informal planting scheme was decided upon. The garden was awarded Bronze.
“A Dream Journey” Arriva Trains designed by Bridgend College highlighted the environmental and personal benefits of travelling by train.
“Urban Oasis” Groundwork UK & the RHS designed by Chris Beardshaw showed how derelict places can be transformed with clever design turning them into `green` spaces that can be used for the benefit of both people and wildlife.
Awarded Best in Show Feature.
The planting on the designed space;
Testament that it could be used by people and wildlife, these ducks were waking up at dawn on top of one of the walls of the garden.
“A Spring Allotment” Designed by Chris Smith of Pennard Plants replicated what is growing on an allotment at this time of year.
Finally walking around the floral pavillion I am always on the look out for eye catching plants. On my last evening at the show I got to photograph this Protea hybrid from the Trewidden Nursery stand. This was taken with a 180mm Canon macro lens with a 4 second exposure. When using such slow exposures its vital that the plant is totally still as it was this evening as the show was closed and most people had left the pavillion.
Now its time to get up my allotment and harvest some of my own rhubarb after seeing the Pennard Plants display.