Sandy’s Garden ... International Garden Photographer of the Year

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Now that the dark days of November are upon us, indoor pursuits seem more attractive than they did during the bright, warm days of summer.

The relative scarcity in central Scotland of bright, warm days during the summer that is slowly fading from the memory makes such bright, warm days as there were seem rather more memorable than might otherwise be the case. And anyone in search of an indoor attraction that will stir the memory, the imagination and the sense of beauty will do well to visit the International Garden Photography of the Year Exhibition which is presently showing in the Third Floor Gallery of Callendar House here in Falkirk.

This prestigious international photography competition is organised by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew; and the best of the images submitted in 2011 were first shown there in March of this year. But a selection of the images is now on tour and, fresh from the Chelsea Physic Garden and before moving to the Bentlif Gallery, Maidstone, these are on show … free! … in Falkirk. This is the first time the show has been in Scotland, bringing together the best garden, nature and outdoor photography from around the world and including a prize-winning entry from local photographer Graham Harris Graham.

Graham’s spectacular photograph was awarded third place in the Textures category, and is entitled ‘Leaf & Pebbles.’ No words, not even the photographer’s own, can do the photograph justice: but here are his words anyway, to whet the appetite and, hopefully, arouse sufficient curiosity to inspire a visit to Callendar House to see this picture and, of course, the others. “Photographed in my garden, this seasonally coloured maple leaf resting on a bed of river stones, rounded over several millenia present two interesting textures, naturally created in strikingly different ways. I was initially struck by the deeply saturated, blood red colour of the leaf but upon framing the shot, realised that the homogenous backdrop of river pebbles made the image more complete. A tripod held the camera to look straight down to avoid reflections from the overcast sky & enhance the colour saturation.” But if ever proof were sought of the truth of the old adage, ‘One picture is worth a thousand words,’ this is the picture.

The overall winner of the competition in 2011 was Magdalena Wasiczek from Trzebinia in the Malopolska region of Poland, whose photograph of a brimstone butterfly hanging from a sweet pea flower and entitled ‘Upside Down’ won these commendations from Andrew Lawson, one of the judges. “I love the subtlety and balletic simplicity of this picture. The brimstone alighting on a sweet pea is a fortuitous event, brilliantly seen. The butterfly and the flower are the perfect complement to each other. The outlines of the insect’s wings are continuous with the lines of the flowers; and the patterning on its wings picks up an echo of the pink colour of the flowers. The negative spaces between the different shapes are particularly beautiful. The pea tendril at the bottom right is an essential part of the composition, creating repetitive shapes and acting as a metaphor for the butterfly grasping onto the flower.”

Images from the International Garden Photography of the Year Exhibition are on view in the Third Floor Gallery of Callendar House in Falkirk until Saturday 19 January; Callendar House is open between 10.00 and 5.00 every day except Sunday (but not Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day); and admission is entirely free. Do go … it’s wonderful!

Sandy Simpson, Polmont Horticultural Society