The RHS Tatton Flower Show through my eyes – and camera lens

RHS Tatton 2013

RHS Tatton 2013 - Credit: Jane Burkinshaw

Photographer Jane Burkinshaw from took her camera along to 2013 RHS Tatton Show

RHS Tatton 2013

RHS Tatton 2013 - Credit: Jane Burkinshaw

Take one look at my garden planted haphazardly with plants that are probably ill-suited to the soil type, aspect or location and you’ll know I’m not a skilled gardener. Those flowers that thrive do so in spite of my efforts. I don’t even particularly like gardening, limiting myself to bunging in some bedding plants, pulling up a few weeds and doing a bit of dead heading, whilst sipping a glass of wine on a summer’s evening. I do, however, love sitting out in the garden, admiring my efforts and am often found swinging gently in the hammock, enjoying a latte or aforementioned glass of wine, depending on how low the sun is in the sky!

Whilst gardening isn’t a great passion of mine, photography is, particularly close ups of plants and flowers. I’ve visited many of Cheshire’s beautiful gardens and lost myself for several hours, engrossed in my favourite activity.

Going to the RHS Tatton Flower Show is an un-missable opportunity for me to indulge in my love for flower photography, enjoyment of other people’s hard work in creating beautiful outside spaces and, of course, some retail therapy. And did I mention drinking Pimms in the sunshine and nattering with Debbie, my sister-in-law? A day at Tatton isn’t always this idyllic – we’ve stood like drowned rats in the entrance to the floral marquee and fought vicious battles with pensioners over free tables and chairs in the sheltered eating areas.

But this year’s visit on Friday 26th July was absolutely perfect, with wall-to-wall sunshine guaranteed. The newly invented Ladies’ Day inspired us to switch jeans and crocs for sandals and frocks (neither of us do posh hats, we haven’t got the right kind of heads) and we set off on our grand day out in the Cheshire countryside.

One of the things I really love about our annual visit, aside from the awe inspiring gardens and floral displays, is that it is a wonderful place for endulging in people watching. I have a hypothesis that you can break down the visitors to Tatton into four main types (forgive me, these are a bit tongue in cheek):

The stalwart RHS members who take their gardening extremely seriously, as evidenced by their sensible walking shoes, rucksacks, picnic lunches, thermos flasks and those walking sticks that become little stools.

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The Cheshire Set – posh summer frocks and big handbags, 3 course luncheon reservations in the formal dining room and jugs of Pimms in the afternoon. Ladies Day gave them the excuse for even posher frocks and big hats this year.

Weekend gardeners – that’s us! We’re there to enjoy a day out admiring the show gardens, pick up a few plants that are unlikely to see another season and buy some totally useless garden gadget. I’ve been known to arrive home with a rake that no one could use and a very expensive blender that is only ever employed to make smoothies these days.

And finally the photographers (me in spirit) who are focused (!) solely on capturing shots of the abundance of beautiful plants and gardens. Almost every visitor to Tatton has a camera in some guise but I’m talking about the true enthusiast or pro with cameras and bags hanging off both shoulders.

I would love to visit the flower show twice each year, once as a browser, shopper and sipper of Pimms and then again a second time armed only with my camera and a zoom lens. I’ve managed to combine both needs each year on one visit but I have to strike a compromise to ensure that Debbie wants to come along with me the following year!

This year I stood near the exit just before the show closed - in the lovely low slanting sunlight of early evening – and enjoyed watching people leave, dragging behind them trollies full of bobbing flowers, carrying long pieces of twisted metal trellis, occasionally smart designer carrier bags (the posh ones with string handles) and some just with a single plastic bag containing a few much sought after plant specimens. I think everyone leaves at the end of the day with a smile on their face (aching, possibly soggy feet aside), for there’s something very uplifting about being surrounded for a day by nature’s bounty. With bees buzzing around flower heads wherever you turn and butterflies flitting from one bloom to another it feels like a little bit of paradise, pure escapism for a day.

Look out for more great coverage of the RHS Tatton Flower show in our September 2013 issue