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One day Garden and Flower Photography Workshops

Dahlia Weston Stardust

Dahlia Weston Stardust


NEW FOR 2012

 One day Garden and Flower Photography Workshops

2011 has been an exciting and busy year for me workwise and winning awards. Due to interest in my work and requests I am introducing a programme of gardens and flowers digital photography workshops for 2012.

These will be for small groups at inspirational gardens near to Stroud, Gloucestershire, held on a Saturday throughout the year. Please visit my website for dates and further information.

The workshops will lead you to feel and be inspired by the beautiful gardens we photograph in. I am a firm believer in the creative process of photography and learning in a fun and relaxed way.

Whenever out on a shoot I feel what I am drawn to and start from that point. Most of my photography is tripod based so it is important to bring along a tripod.

Below is a selection of my award winning photographs.

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime


USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti (Cereus giganteus)

USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti (Cereus giganteus)

Palm trees reflected in pool, Marjorelle garden, Morocco, sunrise

Palm trees reflected in pool, Marjorelle garden, Morocco, sunriseTulip Professor Roentgen

Homage to Edward Weston

Homage to Edward Weston


Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn

Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn

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Tatton Park RHS Flower Show 2011; Show Gardens

This was my first visit to Tatton Park RHS flower show and I was greatly impressed. A very friendly, fun and professional show, billed as the North`s greatest garden party.

I had access to the site from 5am for 3 days. Having not been to Tatton before the very first 5am start was a very quick orientation. The light was flat and grey for most mornings, which does work for show gardens, though at dawn I do prefer the warm soft light. This happened some evenings around 8pm.

Awarded Best in Show and Gold was the garden entitled; “Save a Life, Drop the Knife”;  garden designed by Glen Jackson & the Offenders at HMP Everthorpe. The message was clear and the garden moved from gnarly, sharp, angry urbanism through to gentle contemporary softness and peace.

"Save a Life, Drop the Knife"; garden designed by Glen Jackson & the Offenders at HMP Everthorpe

 “Grasses with Grace” by Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage Gardens & Nursery was my personal favourite that I kept coming back to at different times as it changed constantly. The planting was just superb, especially for a photographer, as there were so many vistas that were eye catching. I have to admit that the Echinacea “Green Envy” was also my favourite flower in the show as it was so well offset with the Sanguisorba obtusa and the  Grasses: Stipa capillata (front); & Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Bronzeschleier’ (back).

"Grasses with Grace", Awarded Gold Medal, Designed by Sue Beesly, Bluebell Cottage Gardens

 Early evening back lighting on the Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ and Agastache ‘Black Adder’ also showed off the grasses  Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent’ (left) ; Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster (back)

Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’, Achillea ‘Red Velvet’, Grasses: Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent’ (left) ; Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster (back),

Sue`s expert planting is shown here. One of the reasons this garden was my favourite as it really won its well deserved Gold through its planting. As a garden photographer often at shows the structure seems to be thought of first then planted around it. This garden shows that brilliant planting can win Gold.

"Grasses with Grace", Achillea ‘Red Velvet", Anthemis ‘E.C. Buxton’, Agastache ‘Black Adder", Sanguisorba obtusa, Grass: Stipa calamagrostis

 “The Schedule”, awarded Gold Medal was also one of my favourites. The styling was immaculately executed and it transported me back to the 1970`s visiting my Uncle Harry`s garden in Ipswich. A time when life was alot simpler and people took pride in growing things. This was another garden I kept popping back to and once again was rewarded one evening with the backlit brassicas.

"The Schedule", awarded Gold Medal, designed by Gary Hillery, Ken Walton, Finchale Training College

 The garden looked like it had always been there, I really liked the lean-too greenhouse.

I even had a bike just the same as this one! The canvas saddle bag too was classic. Hot Pot for tea! 
“A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” awarded Gold Medal, designed by Daniela Coray, winner of the 2011 RHS National Young Designer of the Year Competition. This meadow garden swayed beautifully in the breeze underneath the crab apple trees, Daniela has a bright future ahead of her.
OXFAM`s “When the Waters Rise”  was part of their “Grow” Campaign” for better ways to grow, share and live together. The garden was full of meaning and the message very clear. It showed the ways people across the world are adapting to climate change, particularly flooding. Here veg is grown in containers that are portable. The sculpture of woman with child on her back looking after the garden highlights womens role in subsistence farming.
“When the Waters Rise”

 Great details like the carrots growing in the wellies!

“Inside Out”,Designed by John Everiss was a great feat of engineering and design. When I was photographing late one evening a couple of the onsite construction crew were having a real good look at the structure. This for me really worked on a few levels. The roof was amazing with the outdoor living area below,

"Inside Out", Awarded Gold Medal, Designer John Everiss

 The “Outside” nestling up pefectly to the “Inside”, the Hornbeam hedging also dividing areas off.

“Paradise Isle- 100 Years On designed by Sam Youd was a very calm reflective garden also awarded a Gold. Sam is Head Gardener at Tatton and was asked to design a Japanese Garden commemorarting 100 years of a Japanese Garden at the park. Sam has been Head gardener for over 30years and was instrumental in bringing the show to tatton park. He will also be retiring next year and I personally wish him a happy and content retirement.

“Paradise Isle- 100 Years On”, designed by Sam Youd
“Painting with Plants“, awarded Silver Gilt Medal, designed by Jan Lomas, Nicola Sweeting, Eaton Garden Team, sponsored by Grosvenor Estate had another of my favourite plants the  Eryngium ‘ Cobalt  Star`

Eryngium ' Cobalt Star`

I also liked this water feature that was blended in nicely to the planting.

Water feature amongst Agastache ‘ Blue fortune”, Eragrostis curvula ( African Love Grass ), Helenium ‘Waldtraut’,

Finally I wandered through the Floral Design Studio and came across this flower display, “Hidden & Revealed” that won Gold & Best Exhibit, by NAFAS. It mesmerised me and really stopped me in my tracks. I found it very peaceful, Zen and calming. I decided to photograph it with a slow enough shutter speed to catch the copper and willow circle spinning enough to still make out the shape amongst the stillness.

NAFAS were awarded Gold & Best Exhibit in the Floral Design Studio


I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the show and look forward to returning for next years show in 2012.

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Malvern Spring Gardening Show May 2011

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