Social History Commission | Oxfordshire

Last year I was commissioned to photograph a garden and exteriors of a house which had a very interesting and emotional history. The house and the land were going up for sale but it had previously been a family home where all of the children had grown up before the elderly parents died. Naturally they had wonderful memories of playing in the garden and wanted me to capture it for them.

The house stood empty with everything left as it was. Teracotta pots near the greenhouse which once overflowed with homegrown strawberries, fruit canes left to seed, a boat house no longer used, disused children’s play equipment and a workshop left exactly as it was. Here’s just a few shots from this very emotive session.

I’d call this documenting social history photography in Oxfordshire and it’s something I have an absolute passion for. If you have a family home which you’d like to record with photographs, please get in touch.

The old well with clematis
Greenhouse and workshop
social history photography oxfordshire
Teracotta pots left undisturbed
social history photography
Overgrown fruit bushes left to seed
sunrise at the plot
A view of the river
swimming steps to the river
Disused boat house with climbing ivy
Children's play things, long since used
old lamp standards
the workshop
Old tools
The greenhouse again from a different angle
The more formal garden area
social history photography oxfordshire

A Visit to Barnsley House

I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to visit this garden for, especially as it’s practically on my doorstep, but I’ve never really had a reason to go until the GMG organised a visit earlier this month. Barnsley House is a beautiful stone hotel & spa set in a small Cotswold village just past Bibury. The house was built in the late 1690’s.

In 1939 Barnsley House was purchased by Cecil and Linda Verey who passed it onto their son David, an architectural historian. David was married to Rosemary Verey and together they constructed a garden through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. In 1962 David brought the Temple from Fairford Park to be situated in the gardens. Rosemary Verey went on to become a noted garden designer, designing gardens for celebrities and royals alike.

We were shown round by head gardener Richard Gatenby who works extremely hard with his team to keep the gardens looking immaculate. If you haven’t been can I suggest a visit for Afternoon Tea! If you want to read more have a look at Richard’s blog here.

We started off in the Rose Garden which is the garden with the pond and the temple, separated from the rest of the garden by the most beautiful ornamental iron gates festooned with Clematis. Moving through the garden there is a beautiful combination of formal and informal. Topiary with borders of roses, lupins and foxgloves. An archway of pleached trees leads the eye to the temple and away to a beautiful water feature. Over the other side of the track there is the kitchen garden where they grow lots of fresh ingredients for the hotel to use in the kitchen. There are lots of little elements of surprise which is what I really love in a garden.

The Rose Garden, Barnsley House


Barnsley House, Cotswolds

Water Feature Barnsley House

Barnsley House

Mixed borders, Barnsley House

Cotswold Garden

Rosemary Verey

Scarecrow Barnsley House


Well happy 2018 and though it’s so tempting to stay inside when it’s cold wet and windy, I am making myself be more aware of the change in seasons. Spring is already on it’s way with the emergence of snowdrops and yellow winter aconites. I visited two beautiful places very recently and wanted to document them.

First of all a trip to Waterperry Gardens on a snowy Sunday. The snowdrops were just emerging and the light dusting of snow on the topiary gave another dimension, even though my fingers were freezing it was worth it.

Second of all a trip to St Boltophs church at Swyncombe which is renowned for it’s carpet of snowdrops. They were still very much in their early stages but looked beautiful in the morning dew.

London Garden Photography | Barbara Samitier Garden Design

a dog friendly garden

It never feels like a good idea when you set your alarm clock for three thirty in the morning, especially at that moment when it goes off but once I’m on my way and I know I’m going to be photographing an amazing garden, the tiredness changes to excitement. We had been checking the forecast for a number of days beforehand but when I met Barbara outside the property in Dulwich at 5.30am it was still dark and the sky was filled with swirling grey cloud instead of the wonderful sunrise which had been promised – great!

As daylight started to come I could finally begin taking photographs of this incredible garden designed by Barbara Samitier. The garden itself is a long narrow plot which Barbara had sectioned into several areas without any feeling of barriers or being disjointed. Nearest to the house was a tiled area which led into the garden. The paths were made of York stone stepping stones and the huge family sitting area is just a wonderful outdoor space. The huge porcelain tiles are by Alhambra and unlike anything I’ve seen before but they look amazing. The giant anglepoise lamp gives a really edgy, modern feel.

Further down the garden there is a BBQ area with it’s own wooden seating and further on still a hidden contemporary seating are with chairs by Solid Soul. The garden is decorated with reclaimed mirrors and old pots which give an eclectic feel.

garden photographer london

garden photography london

Garden Photography London | Barbara Samitier Garden Design

garden photography london


A few months ago I was commissioned to photograph another of Barbara Samitier’s beautifully designed gardens, this time in South Dulwich. The garden was a long rectangle stretching from the rear of the house with a brick wall, giving lovely texture on one side, and a slatted fence on the opposite side. The garden felt really secluded and very private. The planting was a mix of grasses/box hedge/salvias/umbellifers and more mature trees.

Although a fairly small garden the use of space and planting was really inspiring. I especially love the details (I always love Barbara’s details!) of the sunken flags to collect rainwater for the wildlife and reflect the sky. What an absolute haven of beauty. If you’d like to see another garden I photographed for Barbara, here’s the link.

If you would like to get in touch about a commission, contact me here.

garden photography london Barbara Samitier Garden Design small town garden South London garden Garden design - Barbara Samitier garden photography london professional garden photographer

A visit to David Austin Roses

This week I was lucky enough to go on an industry visit to David Austin Roses at Albrighton in Shropshire. Always having been enthralled not only by the brand but by the wonderful stand at Chelsea I was excited to go and learn about the story behind the roses and see the beautiful gardens. The morning started with an introduction by Michael Marriott explaining how they go about creating new variants of rose. The greenhouses were full of plants and the perfume of roses hung in the air.

Michael Marriot

We then walked over to the trial fields where new plants are put through their paces in difficult conditions. Here they stay for a number of years before they pass the test and can go to market.

trial beds at David Austin

And then the part I had been waiting for, to go and explore the gardens and see the wonderful roses. If one word could describe these gardens it would be ‘floribunda’ – a mass of stunningly beautiful and incredibly scented roses.

The Long Garden David Austin Roses

After lunch we were invited to visit Mr Austin’s own private garden which was not only beautiful but adorned by the most wonderful sculptures created by his late wife who was clearly an extremely talented artist. I even got to meet the man himself which was an incredibly humbling experience.

And finally back to explore the perennial garden. I found I was drawn to two particular variants of rose time and time again – Queen of Sweden and Boscobel. It’s time for me to make a new space in the garden!

Do you have a favourite David Austin rose? I’d love to know, leave me a comment below.

Garden Photography | Barbara Samitier Garden Design

Garden Photography Hertfordshire

I was recently commissioned to photograph a new garden design in Hertfordshire designed by the incredibly talented Barbara Samitier. I love Barbara’s design style, her planting, her use of lighting and all the wonderful details she incorporates which make you look and then look again in more detail.

Although the garden design was for a commercial property it incorporated wildflower turf, festoons lights, raised vegetable plots, a pergola and a seating area with fire pit. I’m sure that anyone who uses this garden in the future will appreciate all the features that make it such a special place to spend time.

I think it’s very important to photograph a garden at sunrise because the light is so soft and the colours look so different. It’s especially magical when there is a lot of moisture in the air which creates a very ethereal feel.

If you are a garden designer and you would like to get in touch about a commission, please contact me.

garden photography garden photography hertfordshire garden photographer garden pergola garden inspiration garden photos firepit amazing planting wildflower turf Barbara Samitier Garden Design

Rousham Gardens, Oxfordshire

For a whole year this garden has been on my wish list to visit and I nearly didn’t make it today. The morning started out with some fairly heavy rain but after going to to photograph a commission the rain stopped and I headed off up the motorway. Rousham Gardens are situated not far from Bicester, Oxfordshire.

When I arrived at Rousham there was no one about so I purchased my ticket and made my way to the gardens. I was greeted with an oval lawn and a few lovely cockerels strutting about and crowing. I walked past them and round the corner where I was greeted with a massive box hedge and a tiny hole leading to an iron gate. I love things like this, it’s so Alice in Wonderland and it really captures my imagination.

Sometimes I can get quite emotional when I visit a garden for the first time, especially if I am the only one to experience it and can take in all the sights and sounds without being disturbed. I like to have a walk round first to see what views there are and what I want to start taking pictures of. Generally I get a bit excited and want to swap madly between lenses. I know there should be method – I’m working on controlling my over excitement!

There was a lovely walled garden with two walkways, one filled with apple trees which were in full blossom and another with a mixed border. I’ll be interested to see how that develops over the summer months. In the middle of the garden was a wooden pergola leading to a fountain which was sadly but understandably covered with a wooden frame to keep out the herons.

Leading out from this was a walkway which went to the knot garden. I’ve seen pictures of this online before but none did it justice. It was stunningly beautiful with a huge dovecote in the middle and a sundial amongst the knots. These are all planted with roses so not yet in bloom, I will go back to see them when they are.

There is also a vegetable garden at the bottom and a hothouse which was beautifully surrounded by planted tulip pots. I also saw my first peony in bloom for this year. And this is where I apparently missed another huge part of the garden with a folly and cascades so I’ll definitely be paying it another visit.  I hope you enjoy these photographs, for more information visit their website.


University of Oxford Botanic Gardens

As I was in Oxford today for a meeting, I decided to pop over to the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens and have a look what was going on. I’ve only previously visited once before and didn’t really have a chance to go and have a good look around then so today I spent a glorious hour exploring.

Conditions for photography weren’t great as it was quite breezy and near to midday when the light is at its most harsh but I figured as there were a number of large trees I might be afforded some shade in which to work. There very very few visitors wandering round which was a bonus as I had a lovely choice of vistas and with Magdalen Tower in the background piercing the blue sky it would have been a missed opportunity.

There wasn’t a great deal out to be honest. Lots of greenery which I suppose is normal given the time of year and some stunning tulip beds though a lot of plants looked really thirsty which given the low rainfall we’ve had this April isn’t surprising. I also took a trip into the hothouses to see some of the waterlilies and some crazy carnivorous plants. I will definitely re-visit over the summer months.

oxford botanic gardens april university of Oxford Botanic Garden botanic gardens oxford oxford botanical gardens

Bringing Beautiful Gardens To The Masses – The NGS

NGS open gardens

It was only last year when I discovered the National Garden Scheme. Having a naturally nosey nature I suddenly found I had access to lots of private gardens. Every time I went to a different garden, I discovered something new (and got to eat yummy cake in the process) Imagine!! It was like finding treasure over and over again. It gave me lots of planting ideas for our own garden too.

national garden scheme

On any given Saturday or Sunday you can find me flicking through my yellow book (I call it my bible) to see who has an open garden nearby that I can go and visit and sit and contemplate. Plus its super family friendly. Many gardens welcome children so it’s a great way for everyone to be involved.

I’m a great advocate of gardening for the masses. It’s not just for people with acres and acres of garden. You can grow something virtually anywhere even if it’s a pot on your kitchen window sill. And children love learning how to grow things. Last year for the first time ever, my 7 year old and I planted some seeds and kept them in our mini greenhouse in the back garden. Now I’m not saying those seeds came to anything (we need much more practice) but his excitement at planting and having to keep watering the seeds was phenomenal. We are still deciding what to grow this year!

Last year I only really got into it towards the end of summer so I missed many of the gardens I wanted to go to. This year I was on it, going through with my highlighter which I am determined to visit this year. Gardeners are really friendly people too. If you ask them advice about growing they are always generous with their knowledge.

The National Garden Scheme was started in 1927 and a way of raising money for charitable causes. Ninety years later and it’s still going strong. The money goes to various nursing charities so it’s all in aid of a good cause (my kind of charitable giving). The Yellow Book is available at all good bookshops or from the NGS Website.