With Spring buds popping all around, what better time to announce the results of the 2022 Royal Horticultural Society Photographic Competition? This is a contest steeped in the culture of cultivation, mixing not only beautiful plant portraits and garden scenics, but documentary style shots of working horticulturalists and the fauna that help keep the natural world blooming, all around the Earth.
With photos judged on their technical quality, impact, creativity, composition and how well they fitted which of the nine separate category briefs they were entered into, there were almost 10,000 submissions this year in all, making this a hotly contested prize. And a worthy one, with the RHS, the UK’s largest gardening charity, committed to supporting gardeners in tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis.
Top of the tree this year was Sanjay Jani’s photo, which won the Plants category and Overall Adult Winner prize. The image captures crocuses growing alongside a concrete office wall in Iowa, USA, and shows how we need plants to intertwine with urban life, even in unexpected places. Sanjay shot it on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and EF180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens.
Other category winners included Marek Mierzejewski’s photo of Equisetum Arvense (field horsetails), captured near Gdansk in Poland. Topping the Macro category, Marek used a Canon EOS 6D Mark II and EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, revealing the beauty of this ancient plant beneath his feet in plain sight.
Another close-up winner was Sara Bishop’s entry in the Social Media Category category, showing a beautiful summer meadow with attendant bees, captured in Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds, UK. It was shot on a Canon 5D Mark IV and EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
In Gardens category, Andrea Jones’ image won top spot, taken just after dawn at Madresfield Court, Worcestershire, UK. Taken on a Nikon D850 and Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, it shows the garden interspersed with yew, roses and herbaceous perennials, such as Amethyst, creating a wonderful mix of colours.
In the Welcoming Wildlife category, the winning image was captured by Weinong Duan in Yangquan City, Shanxi Province, China, and shows an eagle owl, wings spread and ready to pounce on its prey in the grassland below. It was shot on a Canon EOS-1DX Mark ll and EF600mm f/4L IS II USM.
In the competition’s Creative category the top image was submitted by Md Asker Ibne Firoz. Shot in Ramna Park, Dhaka, Bangladesh using a Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6, it shows one of hundreds of Indian flying foxes who dive into the city’s lake to bathe and drink, in an iconic silhouette.
In the Indoor Gardening category, Kam Hong Leung won top spot with an image showing a worker at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London as she tends to the plants in the Waterlily House, which was designed to showcase the giant Amazon water lily. It was shot on a Panasonic FZ72.
Finally, the RHS Photographic Competition features two categories open to your photographers. Topping the Under 11s section and also winning the overall Young Winner prize was Alex Chapman, who shot this image of life reflected in a winter pond at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex, on a sunny January day. It was made on an iPhone XR.
In the Under 18s category, the winner was Lucie Havelange with an image taken in front of the grand Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Here, a dragonfly drew her eye and she used a Fujifilm X-T20 and XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lens to capture it.
Head to rhs.org.uk for more info on the charity and to sign up and compete in next year’s contest.