Magazine article The Spectator

Spinners of Dreams

Magazine article The Spectator

Spinners of Dreams

Article excerpt

If you want to know why there has been such an explosion in interest in gardening in the last decade or more, look no further than the development of garden photography, together with the improvement in the quality of colour printing. The enormous number of high-class, highly illustrated gardening books and magazines now available owes a great deal to the skills of the modern garden photographer. Never have images been sharper, more beguiling or, in PR-speak, more inspirational. Indeed, so good are the pictures and the colour origination these days, that gardening features are now prominent in colour supplements and general-interest magazines as well.

Not surprisingly, many people who might well have resisted the allure of what are known as 'chatty' gardening books (those with plenty of text and perhaps a few line drawings) have found illustrated books much more to their taste. Even those of us who were already converts to gardening books have marvelled at how much more superior pictures have added to our understanding and pleasure.

Demand has created a ready supply of professional garden photographers, even though the job requires very particular qualities. Apart from having the obvious, though unusual, combination of technical acumen with artistic sensibility, they must be tireless and meticulous, with a patience which Job might have found excessive.

In the summer months, they move ceaselessly from garden to garden, here and abroad, sometimes with a caravan hitched to the back of the car, so that they can sleep on the spot and be up before dawn to catch the best light. Long before the garden owner is astir, they will be making a ghostly progress around the garden, noiselessly slipping between shrubs, leaving no footprints in the border soil, the only signs that they are human, rather than ethereal, being the step-ladder, tripod and box of lenses which accompany them everywhere.

Even in winter, they are out very early catching the rime on seed heads before the rising sun can melt it, or snow on the horizontal branches of Comus controversa. They seem to rise above the discomfort of being motionless for long periods outside, in all weathers and in all seasons. …

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