Photo competition winners announced

This year’s National Garden Scheme photography competition, which is in association with BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, encouraged amateur photographers to get snap-happy at open gardens across England and Wales – and we can now announce the winners!

We received hundreds of entries, all of which showcase another fantastic year of garden visiting  – and we managed to whittle them down to one winner and runner up in each category.

All category winners receive £100 to spend on tools from our fantastic sponsors, WOLF-Garten – and the overall winner receives a bundle of tools worth over £950. The winning image from the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine: Fantastic flowers category will also appear in the magazine’s 2019 calendar.

A huge thank you to all entrants who submitted a photograph from a National Garden Scheme garden opening this year, and congratulations to all the amateur photographers who have been commended.


Best overall photograph


WINNER: Cally Stephens – ‘Leaf Spirit Sculpture’ taken at Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset

Judges’ comments:

“This lifelike portrait has a painterly quality about it, that’s intriguing and moody. Cally made clever use of a dark background to focus all the light and attention on the face emerging from foliage, giving the shot real depth.”



Beautiful garden views


WINNER: Howard Jones – ‘Framing the light’ taken at Longner Hall, Shropshire

Judges’ comments:

“This shot beautifully frames and captures the light. Shooting into the sun creates the flare of light and highlights the shape on the topiary that could otherwise be lost. And by using the classic composition technique of thirds, the image has a good balance, giving a sense of calm.”


RUNNER-UP: Anne Warren – ‘Chapel’ taken at Larch Cottage, Cumbria

Judges’ comments:

“There’s a very clear sense of peace in the photo, reflecting the chapel’s purpose as well as surroundings. The composition also lends to this sense of calm, with the reflective pond and bench beyond drawing you in. It’s a scene that invites you in.”


Design details


WINNER:  Cally Stephens – ‘Leaf Spirit sculpture’ taken at Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset (as above)


RUNNER UP: Joan Platt – ‘Bluebells through a window’ taken at Warton Hall, Lancashire

Judges’ comments:

“This image is tightly framed so it intrigues you, and makes you question what you’re looking at – through a window or a mirror? It’s very restrained, so tells a story and evokes a mood.

“And though this is a woodland scene, it remains fresh and airy, by capturing the light coming through the trees behind, creating a calmer mood than a more dark and moody scene that a wood can often depict.”


Garden wildlife


WINNER: Alfie Harlan – ‘Snail on hosta’, taken at Harcombe, Dorset

Judges’ comments:

“This is framed so well, and the simplicity of the image really focuses the eye. Coming in so close captures the textures of hosta leaf and snail, while the simple colour palette concentrates the eye rather than distracts. The simple but strong lines curving into the central snail give the overall image a dynamic feel.”


RUNNER-UP: Louise Wiliams – ‘Bee on echinops’, taken at Clytha Park, Gwent

Judges’ comments:

“We love the clarity of this image and impression that the bee is hanging on for dear life! The shallow depth of field means the spikes around the periphery are softened, drawing your eye to the centre of the Echinops and its textures. It has a lovely sense of movement, due to the vignetting around the flowerhead, but retains an overall stillness.”


People in gardens


WINNER: Karen Parsons – ‘Admiring the view’, taken at Burrough Hall, Leics

Judges’ comments:

“The interplay between the two subjects intrigues the viewer and draws you into this image. They are deeply engaged in the scene and view beyond, sparking the curiosity. The almost monotone green palette is broken only by the colour of the hat, focusing all your attention on the pair. The dappled light along the path contributes to the wistfulness of the scene.”



RUNNER-UP: John Dinham – ‘Lavender larks’, taken at The Hill Cottage, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Judge’s comments:

“There is a lovely sense of movement and adventure in the two children running along the path, coupled with the striking composition of lavender and allium seed heads, which together make for a striking image.”


Town gardens


WINNER: John Mills – ‘Cockerel’, taken at Glenfield in Bath, Somerset, part of Weston Village Gardens

Judges’ comments:

“This shot has really good framing, with the the cockerel ringed by the arch and railings. The focal point in the lower part draws you in, using the classic proportions of thirds to divide up the scene. Shooting straight onto a view can mean an image is two-dimensional but the sense of perspective here, and the focal point drawing your eye beyond the cockerel, gives it real depth.”


RUNNER-UP: Carolyn Parkman – ‘Archway’ at 27 Russell Road, Lee on Solent, Hants

Judges’ comments:

“This image conveys the intimacy and layering of a full well planted, restricted space. The viewer is naturally drawn through the arch to the welcoming scene beyond. Along the way, your eye lingers on details, just as the garden visitor would do.”


HIGHLY COMMENDED: John Hinde – ‘Caution’, taken at Sycamore Cottage, Manchester, Cheshire

Judges’ comments:

“We enjoyed the juxtaposition of the beauty of a garden with the industrial setting, towering up beyond the fence. It’s telling a story of making beauty in an unlikely space, the garden softening the impact of the factory behind. Extremely well observed.”


BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Fantastic flowers


WINNER: David Vaughan – Tulip ‘Ballerina’, taken at Orchard House, Amersham, Bucks

Judges’ comments:

“With a mid-view framing, David has captured the vibrancy and joy of these ballerina tulips, evoking that wonderful sense of Spring and promise of longer, sunnier days. The light falling on the petals sets of the oranges against the greens of the background to good effect.”


RUNNER-UP: Gareth Parkinson – ‘Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, taken at Dove Cottage, near Halifax, Yorkshire

Judges’ comments:

“Gareth has created the feel of an artists impression of these Helianthus. The mix of focus on the flowers, and soft-ness of the surrounding area brings a beautiful, ethereal quality to this image.”


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