This years theme for the RHS young designers was ‘Avant Gardening’ where the contenders were encouraged to have a daring touch of invention showing new techniques with experimentation. The three contenders that were chosen to design their first show garden at Tatton Park were, Sam Ovens, Clare Broadbent and Alex Schofield under the mentorship of Paul Hervey-Brookes an international multi award winning garden designer.
The winning garden was ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ designed by Sam Ovens who said of his garden “I wanted to show that sometimes the simplest things are the best things,” his garden also picked up a Gold medal.
This was the first garden myself and a colleague started photographing after having a look around the show gardens on the build up on Monday. It had an air of relaxation and calmness and the backlit Stipa Gigantea were very eye catching in the evening light at 7pm. The area the young designers are given at Tatton is perfectly placed for sunrise and evening light, a photographers dream.
Returning the next day at 5.30am I headed straight back to Sam’s garden as I wanted to see the garden with rusted fencing bathed in the early morning glow of warm sunrise light.
His garden had small concrete stepping stones leading to the decking and the seating area.
The rest of the garden was densely planted with many varieties of grasses and ferns, with plants such as Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Verbena bonariensis and Agastache ‘Blackadder’ scattered amongst them.
Sam has a very bright future ahead of him after winning the coveted award of young designer of the year 2014.
Another Gold Medal garden and finalist was WorkOUT designed by Clare Broadbent (Horticon Design), which had an outdoor gym theme.
This wasn’t a garden that I warmed to, maybe because I joined a gym once and didn’t really like the machines, I find gardening in my organic garden and allotment, carrying around heavy photographic gear workout enough. The design had lots of strong ideas such as the rowing machine that had Archimedes’ screws which aerates the pond whilst also creating a workout and the exercise bike turned a water wheel in the pond. I liked the pommel horse bench idea.
One of the gardens that lots of the photographers immersed themselves in was Prehistoric Modernism by Alex Schofield which was awarded a Silver Gilt. The garden was designed for sun worshippers and had coloured Perspex panels in burnt frames to highlight the concept of heat.
The panels created their own micro climates and optical lighting effects around the garden. I liked the Echinacea ‘White Spider’ that were scattered around the garden, especially the ones placed by the coloured panels.
As a garden photographer it was tough to get an overall shot of the garden without it having a show garden setting as the design was open plan with no walls as a backdrop to hide any of the tents or fencing.
Despite this Alex’s garden had lots of very strong visual angles to look at and photograph, I will be following his career.
Tatton Park is a showcase for the young designers and I wish them all the best in their garden design careers, with a special congratulations to the overall winner Sam Ovens. I look forward to following all their careers in the future and I look forward to next years competition.
For photography commissions my website is www.stephenstuddphotography.com
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