I usually post a blog after an RHS show, but have never posted one of Chelsea. After being contacted via Twitter and email with requests, here is my photographers view of the 2014 show gardens.
There is no real order of preference with the gardens, they were photographed over 5 days. My photography is about quality over quantity and making the gardens look like they are not in a show, I haven’t included all the gardens This blog is about the ones that caught my eye as a garden photographer.
Professional garden photographers can apply for 5.30am access, a real bonus as the gardens look at their best, with the best light after sunrise. It is a very busy time for photographers as the images have to be out as quickly as possible, everyone has deadlines and commissions to fulfil so getting a blog out has to take a back seat, though nowadays Twitter works for instant views.
As it is the 50th Anniversary of the RHS Britain in Bloom, I will start with the garden designed by Alan Titchmarsh and Kate Gould. My own town of Stroud benefits from a great splash of colour in the summer as it puts on displays for Britain in Bloom, as do many other places in Britain. It really brightens up the town and is probably something that is taken for granted, without the floral displays the place would look duller.
I liked the story behind the garden and it packed in lots of different microclimates ‘from the moors to the sea’.
The seaside element took me back to when I used to live next to the sea in an old wooden seaside house in Mumbles, Wales. From there it was easy access to go up to the Brecon Beacons, to one of my favourite places Pen Y Fan.
Two rising stars in the garden design world are Harry & David Rich who are from Trefeitha in the Brecon Beacons, their gardens are influenced by their natural surroundings. I first saw their work when I had a commission to photograph the RHS show in Cardiff, where they gained a gold medal. It was my favourite garden there. This year after their Artisan gold medal at Chelsea last year they were on main avenue with “The Night Sky Garden”.
I do love their use of natural materials and being a photographer who really enjoys photographing stone, I was pleased to see Welsh stone incorporated into their garden. The stone really added that natural feel to the garden and was one of my favourite elements in all the gardens.
It took me a few days to find out whether the garden feature in Luciano Giubbilier’s Best in Show, gold medal garden was wood or stone, I will leave you guessing, it was an element I thought added impact to the garden and also being a landscape and travel photographer added a great landscape into the garden with different light affecting it’s look throughout the day.
This garden was the first I photographed during my 5 days at the show, the light in the morning was very captivating.
The garden had stone seats which looked very elegant, but a bit uncomfortable.
One place I really wanted to sit was on the oak tree bench in the Adam Frost garden.
Adam’s garden was also a more naturalistic garden that had lots of great elements. I liked the outdoor living area covered with a turf roof and the limestone boulders in the garden.
Another seat I liked the look of for its design, was in the garden designed by Hugo Bugg for the Royal Bank of Canada, but I wouldn’t want it in my own garden.
The Rich brothers seating again was wooden set between a dry stone wall.
The seating in The Telegraph garden was very contemporary and was part of the stylish garden design.
I was quite taken by the garden, I liked the lime trees creating shade in the patio area and perhaps it was because the garden had a large lawn area it appeared open and light.
My own lawn looks nothing like this one as it has dandelions, daisies, yarrow and many other weeds/medicinal herbs in it and is left to be overgrown in the most part, but at least you could see the Telegraph garden being used by a family, with a space for the children to play.
My first walk round the show gardens I wasn’t very taken by the Cleve West garden as I was looking with a photographers eye and the light wasn’t very good when I saw it. However, at sunrise the garden really clicked into place and the divine light made it truly mesmerising. It was a garden that I kept going back to, it had a peaceful and calming feel to it and I did fall in love with it. This first photo was taken low to the ground at plant level.
Another garden that was designed for photographers because of the light was the Hope on the Horizon Garden designed by Matthew Keightley making his debut at Chelsea.
It was a garden that always had the photographers there as it had so many elements to photograph.
The Fresh gardens area of the show I always head for, though this year I didn’t get to photograph until the Tuesday as I had other commitments. I loved the Mind’s Eye garden, which was another photographers favourite and it won Best in Show for the Fresh gardens.
I could have spent a long time photographing the garden as it had so many great angles and fantastic planting.
Although stone and wood were the predominant materials used in the gardens, metal materials were used in a few of them.
The artisans gardens are a treat as they pack lots of great ideas into a small space. The winner of the best Artisan garden went to ‘Togenkyo – A Paradise on Earth’. I didn’t photograph it as I thought it was a bit too much same as before. I did like the Potter’s garden and thought this one deserved the best in show in the Artisans garden.
The Topiary garden was also very popular.
As I was born in Leeds I was keen to see the Tour de Yorkshire garden. The bicycle wheels incorporated into the Yorkshire stone wall was a clever idea but I wasn’t very keen on the large pool.
The Khora dome made it’s debut at Chelsea and picked up the prestigious president’s award. It looked stunning with the sun rising behind it and the planting was lovely.
The Iris germanica ‘Deep Black and ‘Quechee’ stopped me in my tracks on the Cloudy Bay garden.
The alliums amongst the grasses were a very photogenic landscape.
No Man’s Land garden had a great dialogue behind it and again was a great garden landscape to photograph.
The light on the stone catching the moss juxtaposed with the delicate Astrantia had ruggedness and delicacy in the Rich brothers garden.
Finally on this particular morning I was at Cleve West’s garden as the sun rose with Derek St Romaine and Clive Boursnell, I turned to them both and said “This is why we get up at 4am”, to which they both agreed.
I look forward to next years show and posting a blog on what caught my eye as a professional garden photographer.
For photography commissions my website is:
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