After last years drive up to Knutsford for the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in torrential rain, the omens were looking much better this year – red sky at night – photographers delight. As always for us photographers it was another early pre-dawn start, which is always made much easier with clearer weather as we are always on the search for that perfect dawn light.
The lay out at Tatton this year has changed so myself and other professional garden photographer colleagues on press day played search the show gardens. The show gardens were split into four categories, Galaxy Gardens, Large Gardens, Small gardens and an area for the RHS National Young Designer of the Year finalists gardens (of which I have devoted a seperate blog). After a quick run round looking for where the show gardens were located, there were a few gardens that really caught my eye
The “Gravitational Pull” Galaxy Garden designed by previous Gold medal winners Brendan Vaughan and Leon Davis was the first eye catcher on my way in.
The garden was inspired by the gravitational forces around a black hole, particularly the gravitational pull which enables it to absorb mass from its surroundings. The conical shaped centrepiece was constructed from steel and reused scaffolding boards. Inside the cone a triangular shoot of water obscured the end of the vortex, giving a great visual effect.
The garden had a very strong presence and was a well deserved Gold and Best Galaxy Garden.
I liked its cutting edge design that appears to be Brendan & Leon`s trademark at Tatton. It is also a garden that would fit in well in the Fresh Gardens section, which showcases the best in contemporary design, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
A Stainless Century designed by Phil Hirst celebrated 100 years of the invention of stainless steel by Harry Brearley in Sheffield. There was a 3m tall central stainless steel pergola, a rill depicted the pouring of molten steel from a crucible and what at first looked like bark chippings turned out to be rusted steel highlighting the importance of stainless steel as a non-corrosive material.
Elements in the garden were inspired by Phil`s surroundings in Sheffield, such as his decorative wall panels which are an interpretation of the car park in Sheffield known as the cheese grater.
There were lots of well thought out details including this fence with cut outs of objects that are made of stainless steel.
This was Phil`s first show garden and he turned steel into Gold and won Best Large Garden.
The Mypod Garden designed by seven Landscape Architecture students from Leeds Metropolitan University was about escapism from stresses, pressures and about recuperation with a central Pod encased in a sedum living dome.
The walk down into the earth had some neat details such as the circles cut out from steel on the path and the Yorkshire dry stone wall and moorland planting.
The path led down to the partly underground secluded retreat. The garden was awarded Most Creative Large Garden and Silver Gilt.
The dawn light hitting the The Water Garden had the photographers interest.
Usually I am waiting for warm light to hit a garden, however for the Reflections of Japan Garden I was waiting for the garden to be in shadow as I had envisioned a set of black and white photographs to give a more minimalist Zen feel to the garden.
I first spotted giant pebbles in the Brewin Dolphin Garden designed by Robert Myers at Chelsea this year, their presence gave a Zen like calming influence with their polished surface. The Networks: A Garden for Cancer Research designed by Mary Hoult also made use of them.
The Alzheimer’s Society “Remember to Reflect” Garden Designed by Louise Harrison had large stepping stones over a reflective pool that led to a contemporary stone seating area.
Having my own organic allotment I was naturally drawn to the The Home Guard-ener designed by Gary Hillery & Ken Walton of Finchale college. It was designed to show how families relied on their edible garden during the Second World War.
The layout of the show gardens took some getting used to this year as they seemed a bit too scattered around and many had distracting backgrounds for photography, but they were not short on innovation and were packed full of great inspirational ideas.
Thanks to all the designers, builders and sponsors, I look forward to returning to Tatton in 2014 and photographing the show gardens.
For photography commissions my website is www.stephenstuddphotography.com please use the contact form.
I also run small group travel photography holidays and flower photography workshops www.digitalphotographyholidays.com
I am represented by GAP Photos for my garden photography: http://www.gapphotos.com/imageresults.asp?photogref=139