If you know me well, you know that I’m sensitive to light. Sensitive in a way that means that I have quieter times, maybe in winter, when the lack of light affects the growth of the flowers and where the hours in which to get out the ‘big’ camera are limited. Getting out the camera is my own way of escaping, not for long, but for just enough time to allow me to reduce all my thoughts to the composition of a photo and how to let the latest floral creation catch the best light, to be immortalised on a screen, thus making it permanently immune to wilting. It’s in those brief moments of time that I can breathe properly, and which of us right now doesn’t need that?
Light, to some extent, has also reshaped the way we do classes. Our one-to-one classes now run between April and October because it’s in those months that I can be sure there’ll be enough light at the end of a day to capture the masterpiece/masterpieces made by guests – those all important photos that mean there’s an indelible record of time well spent, even though the tangible items going home hold only a transient beauty. Of course, it’s no coincidence that these lighter months are also in tandem with the flower growing year, so that our ever evolving values on the more serious matter of climate change can be met in small ways such as by using only locally grown flowers in classes.
I am constantly looking for, or thinking about, light. Not just for photographic or flower growing reasons, but just because it makes me a happier person. To sit and talk to someone who has light in their eyes is an infectious thing. To catch the small dog sitting in a patch of warm sunlight melts my hard as nails northern heart.
Seeing things through another’s eyes has always fascinated me and that’s why from time to time I’ll ask professional photographers to come along to our classes, or, if I’m lucky, one might just call by for a cup of tea. It’s in those moments, seeing Sarah Mason’s eyes land on the shadow of a magnolia branch across the kitchen table or Éva Németh choosing a cluttered, cobwebbed corner, carefully concealed by a towering pile of books, that I pinch myself at how lucky I am to know talented folk like this and to sometimes get to watch them work.
“Your eyes are the most important tools you have as a florist”, is a phrase muttered by me in every single class I teach. If that’s true, then, almost as close a second as a decent pair of scissors comes the camera, whether it’s the one on the phone or the ‘big’ camera that has a lens to blur the background, or maybe another lens that captures the softness of petals to the point where you feel you could reach into the photo and touch them.
Over the years I’ve learned (and practised a lot) how to take simple photographs of flowers that have been ‘arranged’, but capturing properly the beauty of all that we grow here in the garden has always eluded me. Keen to keep learning I asked one of the best garden photographers in the land if she might help me see things more clearly, and if she felt able to disclose the secret behind those magical, tactile photos of the garden.
Throughout the year I hope that having a ‘photographer in the garden’ (the title of a great book given to me by a couple of friends, who knew it might send me off down one of those ever present badger holes) will help us see the garden in a different light, as a place to cherish, and as a place where others might come to find some peaceful moments in what is a noisy and unfathomable world.
So here we have the start of spring in the small corner….as observed by Éva Németh (www.evanemeth.com) on a day in March 2022 in a garden that contains mainly hellebores to appreciate. (All photos below by Éva Németh)