Winners of the 2023 HPS Members Photographic Competition

Published: April 17, 2024
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The number of entries for the 2023 competition was unfortunately fairly low. The big difference with other years is that this time, people have clearly been thinking a lot more about composition and lighting which resulted in some more unusual pictures which is always great fun to judge. Before I announce the winners, I would like to thank the judges who were my family this year (guarantees they won’t agree with me!): Anna Dejaegher-Joseph, Maya Dejaegher and Jasmine Dejaegher.

All the winning photographs can be seen in full scale on the Photo Competition page, which also includes past years winning entries.

Here are the winners:

Category 1: Individual hardy perennial – whole plant or close up

1. Nadine Mitschunas, A Sundew Plant Waiting for a Fly
We had a very clear winner this year for the individual hardy perennial category. We don’t often get macro photography pictures. And there’s a good reason for it as it really is very hard to do well. Nadine did it perfect as the focus is spot on which beautifully shows the sticky dew drops on top of the hairs on the leaves. The leaves are beautifully lit which makes them glow. The plant is also very well positioned within the picture for good balance. Congratulations!

2. Linda Hall, Frosted Rosa ‘Screaming Neon Red’
Linda took an absolutely amazing frosty picture of a rose. Even without the frost, this would have been beautiful but the rim of frost on the edges of the flower gives it the wow factor. And somehow, like a bee, at the same time your eyes are drawn towards the centre of the flower.

3. Brian Hackett, Hemerocallis ‘Frans Hals’
Hemerocallis always seems to scream at you ‘picture me, picture me, picture me!!!!’. This is clearly what it did to Brian as well. Brian perfectly captured the essence of the plant with its outrageous colours which is balanced out so well with the colour of early sun light.

Category 2: Plant grouping, border, garden view or HPS events

1. Susan Jeffries, Hosta World
Personally, I find Hostas such an underrated plant. Ok, the slugs may have something to do with it but they don’t all suffer as much from them. Susan shows clearly what Hostas are all about: every shade of green you can imagine, lots of variegation, amazing shape of leaves, size of plant, … Not only that, some subtle use of other flowers can lift the border to a new level. On top of that, the whole picture draws you in from the left to the right with increased depth. Congratulations!

2. Gordon James, Beth Chatto’s garden
This picture could easily have been titled ‘high, higher, highest’. But it’s more than that. It can be quite tricky to make a nice picture of plants that are on high stalks as you have to be careful with the voids and therefore emptiness in between. Gordon spotted very well that this is actually a slightly unusual border. Usually, plant height goes from low to high towards the back of the border while in this case it’s more of a wave where it goes high/low/higher. This means that the emptiness between the stalks are perfectly filled with other plants and flowers so you don’t have the usual problems. Really clever.

3. Charlie Jeffries, Picture Perfect Planting
This picture from Charlie jumped out as it’s not your usual border. It’s a border of shrubs in a spring riot of colours. And even though I suspect the picture was taken here in the UK, it also took us back to climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo where you can see the wild Rhododendrons poking through the clouded tropical forests.

Category 3: Photographs taken by members’ children/stepchildren/grandchildren/step-grandchildren (16 and under) – any gardening related subject

1. Jamie Hall, aged 14, taken in Nan’s garden
This picture from Jamie was one of those easy winners. We found it a picture of hope: it was clearly taken during or just after a heavy downpour and the dark green leaves in the background gives it all a very sombre mood. But then there is this bright yellow flower (of an Elecampane?) which lifts the general sombre mood of the background into a beacon of light and hope. There really always is sunshine after rain! Congratulations!

2. Isla Hall, aged 13, Dahlia in Nan’s garden
Isla clearly finds Dahlia’s just as mesmerising as I do. I think it’s the symmetry of the plant and the gradual unfurling of the leaves that makes it stand out so much. It’s as if the plant wants to make you stop to strike a conversation ‘Hello, here I am, how are you today?’.

3. Ollie Ryall, aged 15, Blackberry bush at a local park
Ollie did something that all good photographers do and that is not to walk past the familiar but see the familiar in a different light. People usually only find a blackberry interesting once its berries are sweet and juicy. Not many people stop to have a look at the flowers or while the berries are still green. This picture shows that it is possible to take beautiful pictures of any plant. Not only that, he was rewarded with a picture of a bumblebee hiding while collecting nectar.

Can I thank everyone again to have submitted their pictures for the 2023 competition. Please do submit your pictures at any time you want to photo-comp@hardy-plant.org.uk. The deadline for the 2024 competition will be the usual December 6th again.

Matthias, HPS Photo Librarian


All the winning photographs can be seen in full scale on the Photo Competition page, which also includes past years winning entries.