While in this part of the UK the spring gave us heavy snow and freezing winds, the following months have been much kinder. Unlike the previous six soggy summers, this year we enjoyed weeks of hot, sunny weather – great for getting a tan, but not ideal for garden photography.
However there were days with bright, diffused light, which were perfect for capturing images of plants and flowers – and when the conditions have been right I’ve been travelling widely, building up my image library.
Now, during an unseasonably cold week in September, I’m working through these photos editing the RAW files in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. These will be added to my website, where many can be bought as prints – or, with the garden owners’ permission, added to stock libraries.
Below are some new shots taken at gardens in Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, some not even on my website yet!
Trentham Gardens – Staffordshire
This is a stunning destination all year round. I visited in August when the Floral Labyrinth, pictured here, was in full bloom. The bold drifts of richly coloured herbaceous perennials are the work of garden designer Piet Oudolf. They are a pleasure to photograph, whether as wide swathes of colour, or focussing in on groups of plants. The formal Italian Gardens also looked magnificent, stretching down to the lake – these were designed by Chelsea gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith.
Bluebell Cottage Gardens – Cheshire
These gardens are owned by Sue Beesley, a former BBC Gardener of the Year. The borders are imaginatively and inspirationally planted with perennials, roses, trees and shrubs, providing endless creative possibilities for photographers. Rather than only capturing the wider sweeps of the garden, I try to isolate smaller groups of plants with complementary colours and form. I also enjoy picking out brightly hued flowers with their colour softened by enveloping grasses.
Arley Hall – Cheshire
The double herbaceous borders at Arley Hall, Cheshire, are not only beautiful but historic, being the first of their kind to be planted in the UK. Visit in May and June and you can enjoy displays of rich purple alliums and brilliant red poppies. Later in the season they are replaced by a rich tapestry of colour from a wide range of plants such as: delphiniums, salvias, campanulas, heleniums, lychnis coronarias, monardas and sedums.
Wollerton Old Hall Garden – Shropshire
One of my favourite gardens, this popular destination has been described by the award winning gardener Chris Beardshaw as: “Possibly the most beautiful personal garden to have been created in the last 25 years”. It is in fact made up of a number of garden rooms, separated by walls and paths – with superb and exuberant planting that evolves month by month, ensuring there is interest throughout the opening season. I visited in July and August when the herbaceous planting was at its most luxuriant.