The Beauty of Flowers in Full Focus; Orna Cassidy Captures the Incredible Intricacy of Plants; GARDENS

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 27, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Beauty of Flowers in Full Focus; Orna Cassidy Captures the Incredible Intricacy of Plants; GARDENS


Byline: EUGENE HIGGINS In the Garden

Working in my garden at this time of year usually involves tidying and cutting back numbers of plants that are heading into their dormant period. But this year, it seems Mother Nature has decided to give us a bit of a break, with November temperatures breaking records - even reaching 17*C on some days.

Anemones, rudbeckia and Mexican orange blossom in flower are magnificent at the best of times, but in November it's truly a sight to behold. It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about preparing for another harsh winter. In the meantime, the array of colours in the garden so close to Christmas makes you wonder what lies ahead.

Somebody who is definitely tuned in to what is going on in nature is Orna Cassidy, a photographer who specialises in flowers, plants and capturing gardens as they change over the year.

Orna's website is full of magnificent photos of plants in full flower. Before I call out to visit her, she tells me about an amazing photo of hydrangeas in full flower in her garden that she took just a few days before.

She's a keen amateur gardener and loves watching as plants and flowers develop through the seasons. Her garden, in Sutton, Co. Dublin, is beside the sea, which she says can sometimes be a little challenging because of the ongoing struggle with sandy soil and severe winds.

The first thing I want to know when I arrive there is how she created her wonderful, detailed photos of late-flowering hydrangeas.

'I use a macro lens to photograph the flowers because it captures the most incredible and hidden details, which just can't be seen using an ordinary lens - or indeed by the naked eye,' she explains. 'I couldn't believe the hydrangeas. They were doing very poorly and had been neglected so I replanted them into new pots in the summer. Little did I know what would happen. I recorded them in their full flower in November, as I don't know if that will ever happen again.'

Orna grew up in South Dublin and inherited her love of gardening from her late father: 'We had a huge garden where my father spent many hours working. It was his pride and joy. People always admired the beautiful year-round display of colours from his vast collection of plants and flowers.'

After getting married and buying her first house (which had a garden that was a complete wilderness), Orna put into practice what she had learned from her father: 'The grass hadn't been cut for months, some beautiful plants had gone wild and there was even a little pond overgrown with weeds,' she recalls. 'We cleared the whole garden and started to replant slowly, as we could afford.'

This paid off - the garden eventually won an award from her local residents' association.

So how did Orna become interested in plant photography? …

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