After five years of cold, wet summers, most of the UK has enjoyed a few weeks of sunshine, warmth and wonderfully dry weather.
Sunny conditions, however, are not ideal for garden photography – what looks good to us on a brilliant summer or spring day does not necessarily translate into a quality image when viewed on the computer monitor. Leaves are very reflective, they can be so bright the highlights are blown out, the shadows very dark with detail lost.
Early morning and evening are often the best times to photograph gardens, particularly if the day is, or was, sunny. But if you don’t have access outside normal visiting hours, photographing on a bright overcast day is ideal – flower colours are richer, pastels are better portrayed and there is much more detail in the petals and leaves.
So last week I saw an opportunity, when overcast conditions were forecast over North Wales. The weather was, bright, warm and still, so I headed off to the National Trust’s Bodnant Gardens – a destination that has benefited from much restoration work in recent years.
The Upper Rose Terrace has been transformed, with the soil replaced and new roses planted – providing a brilliant, colourful and intensely fragrant display. I headed here first and it didn’t disappoint. I took a number of images looking up, down and across the terrace – this shot (above) features a heliochronometer, or precision sundial.
I then photographed the Round Garden, with its fountain, roses and herbaceous planting – again looking stunning in the diffuse July light.
Moving down past the Croquet Terrace I arrived at the Lily Terrace, with its large pond filled with water lilies (pictured above) and from there I was able to photograph the Pin Mill on the Canal Terrace (you can see this at the top of this page).
The Lower Rose Terrace was restored last year – the fragrant English roses were in their first flush. I moved up and down the terrace photographing these with various lenses – also capturing the newly painted pergolas, complete with recently planted and prolifically flowering climbing roses.
As I sit here at my computer, thunderclouds are gathering and the recent sunny spell looks set to come to an end. At least it gives me a chance to edit and process the hundreds of images I took at Bodnant that day, for submission to the National Trust Image Library – and through them experience, once again, the beauty of what must be one of Britain’s finest gardens!