If there’s one thing as regular as the Editor’s intro in Gardens Illustrated, it’s the wealth of imagery that comes our way courtesy of star photographer Jason Ingram. Jason is perhaps GI‘s most prolific contributor with a reputation for delivering the goods, from sumptuous feature openers and meticulously studied plant portraits, to our award-winning front covers.
Whether it’s standing in the rain at the crack of dawn, or patiently waiting for just the right sunset moment, no job is too tough! We’re celebrating our 300th issue this month so we asked Jason to pick his favourite ever GI pics. Here’s his pick of the best.
Ulf Nordfjell’s Home Garden, Sweden
This was my first trip to Sweden so it was especially exciting when I knew that I would be shooting the home garden of International Garden Designer, Ulf Nordfjell. This was in 2013 and Ulf was doing a show garden at Chelsea Flower Show, writer Annie Gatti and myself planned to travel out to meet him after he arrived home. He was extremely nervous that the garden was not going to be looking it’s best as he had been away for the majority of May but when we arrived we were both amazed by his wonderful oasis in the middle of northern Sweden. Nestled amongst the forest he has created this wonderful space that worked effortlessly with its surrounding landscape, it was so relaxing. We had a long trip to get to the garden so this was a real treat, the light was amazing and I could shoot for almost the entire 24 hours. I even managed to do a spot of fishing in the river that runs through the back of his garden before leaving which was the perfect end to the perfect shoot. Since this shoot for Gardens Illustrated Ulf and I have become great friends and we have been working on a book together for the past four years.
Bourton House, Gloucestershire
This was commissioned by the magazine in 2009 and is still to this day one of my best Winter shoots. It’s very rare to get the perfect conditions for a garden in Winter, a good hoar frost and soft light with no wind, I had all of this in place for this morning at Bourton House. It was magical to be surrounded by these conditions and where ever I pointed my camera was a stunning image, I could not work quick enough to shoot the entire garden as I realised the conditions were not going to last for very long. Both the wide images and every single detail was ice coated and sparkled in the soft winter light, I had a field day. When this image was chosen for the cover I was so pleased.
This is Tulipa Wakefield displayed in a beer bottle which is how all the growers show off their blooms at the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Societies annual show. This was their 183rd Tulip show and I had been given the great privilege to shoot the entire event for the magazine. It was a true honour as I knew there had only been a hand full of photographers that had covered the show before. Seeing how each grower prepares their exquisite blooms for judging and all the rows of beautiful feathered and flamed tulips was wonderful. All the members had their own techniques which were specific to how they grew their tulips, some were revealed to me but most were kept a secret. All the members were so welcoming and I felt part of the show, I was sent home with a crate of tulips also which was an extra treat from the days shoot.
Wildside Nursery – Keith Wiley
I had worked with Keith for the plantsman’s series in the magazine for the year so I knew his garden really well but had never been given the opportunity to shoot it. His garden works so well in its surrounding landscape, it’s innovative and exciting, a true plantsman’s garden. The garden is sculpted from a Devon field and the style is naturalistic which blends seamlessly into the hills beyond. I arrived about half an hour before the dawn chorus and witnessed the most amazing first light. The sounds and softness of light was sublime and I felt wrapped in it, a shoot I will always remember.
Malverleys – Matthew Reese
I have worked with Mat for many years and his work at Malverleys is extraordinary . Malverleys is very much a flower garden and never fails to surprise. The garden is a real favourite of mine and as I have shot there so many times I know exactly where the light is going to be at all times of the day. The white garden is one of my favourite parts, I always know I have a little longer to get this shot as the trees behind act as the perfect diffuser for the rising sun. The structure and texture within this part of the garden with all the cool tones is such a joy to shoot, it’s beautifully planted with a combination of trees and shrubs, perennials and annuals so I always spend time getting as many details as possible, I struggle to move on which as a garden photographer is essential as there are always other sections of the garden that need to be shot too.
Hunting Brook Garden – Jimi Blake
Before first visiting Jimi’s garden I had heard so many great things about it so I had huge expectations, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The garden is just full of plants, trees and shrubs inspired from many of Jimi’s plant hunting expeditions. Every plant has a story that is so significant to Jimi’s life and I was completely captivated by it. Sunrise looking out of the garden towards the Wicklow mountains was incredible, I very rarely have anyone with me when I shoot but on this occasion Jimi was up with me too, I usually find it a distraction but he was great company as I made my way around the garden in the early morning September light.
Yelford Manor – Katie Guillebaud
I arrived at this Oxfordshire garden designed by Katie Guillebaud about an hour before the sun had risen, in June this is extremely early. This is my favourite time of day and often start shooting in the twilight hour, the cooler magenta tones and the stillness comes as a reward for being up so early. I saw this trough and immediately started to compose the image, I loved the way the planting softened all the edges of the water feature, the sky reflected in the pool and the slight mist in the air added that third dimension. The exposure was about 2 seconds so it really did need to be very still. This image also made the cover which I was very pleased about as it was certainly my best shot from the day.
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