Garden photography

by James Alexander-Sinclair

The ground is too hard and the east wind too ticklish for relaxed gardening, but there is still great pleasure to be had from looking at and photographing gardens.

Branches of a tree covered in snowHappy New Year. I hope your Christmases involved many good things and that you're not feeling too lethargic and doughy. January is, it must be admitted, a pretty dreadful month but we should ignore the doom and gloom and look for silver linings.

It has, as I'm sure you've noticed, been a bit cold over Christmas like a proper winter. The ground is too hard and the east wind too ticklish for relaxed gardening, but there is still great pleasure to be had from looking at and photographing gardens. Many people will have received digital cameras from Santa and will soon discover how unbelievably useful they can be. See a plant you like in a friend's garden? Click. See a spectacular border? Click. Notice a great combination at a flower show? Click. Catch Joe Swift doing something embarrassing? Click. Never again will you be stuck for a plant name: if you have a photograph you can always look it up.

Some of the most spectacular pictures can be taken when it is frosty or snowy. The general dreariness of January can be transformed by a smattering of frost and a blue sky. Whether you're capturing wide landscapes or close-up details it's a great time to take a spectacular photograph. Evergreens such as yew are good subjects, but so are less obvious candidates like beech, grasses, roses or even completely random objects.

The digital camera also comes in handy when keeping a garden diary. I have pictures of my garden spanning the depths of winter to highest summer so I can always see which bits work and which bits are best forgotten. Sometimes I notice a gap or mistake in a planting scheme. I then tend to completely forget where it was by the time the autumn comes and it's a good time for moving things around. With a photograph you can easily remember what is going on.

Snow is forecast so the Kodak moments are only going to get better.

So even if you can't do much gardening at this time of year, at least get out there and take some photographs. In the words of  Telly Savalas in his extraordinarily cheesy 1975 hit: "If a picture paints a thousand words…"

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Gardeners' World Web User 07/01/2009 at 09:31

I agree. Trees in winter are more spectacular than when covered in a green shroud in summer. The shapes are so interesting especially with a coating of frost.It was watching a programme Chris Beardshore did on winter gardening which opened my eyes. He said that people look at nature in winter but they dont see. It has made me appreciate what before I always thought of as a dreary time in the garden and now see it as most beautiful.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/01/2009 at 12:21

I love Crass Beardshaw he is always so deep and philosophical. Winter frost leaves such tantalizing textures everywhere and previously dull plants are transformed into something spectacular by it - until it melts and then they just look soggy.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/01/2009 at 12:25

I wish I could feel like you ,I just think the garden is so miserable in the winter . Except for the birds I just lose interest.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/01/2009 at 21:20

On the way to my daughters house today every garden was a picture, the frost on the trees and bushes gave a fairy tale look absolutly beautiful, made me smile on this freezing cold day and I had forgotten my camera.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2009 at 20:20

I always say I suffer from SAD disorder in Jan, but just being outside in my garden, the smell of winter, the beautiful sights from the frosts,ice and snow and the christmas garland, door wreath and christmas table arrangement all arranged in the garden after we have finished with them inside is my delight and a treat for the birds. This is my garden winter picture.

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