Stunning garden photography winners remind us what we are missing outdoors

(Image credit: Serhii Miroshnyk)

The Royal Horticultural Society has announced the winners of the 2020 Photographic Competition revealing an beautifully eclectic selection of images from amateur and professional photographers alike from around the globe.

The prestigious title of Overall Winner was awarded to American photographer Helen McLain from for her image Chicago Prairie. Entered into the Urban Gardening category, it depicts the dramatic backdrop of the city’s skyline at sunset contrasting with swaths of plants flowering in Lurie Garden, Millennium Park. She wins a £5000 prize.

Scooping the title of Overall Young Winner is Elliot Connor from Australia, who captured a tiny bush cricket perching on a leaf within the Garigal National Park in Sydney. Entitled Glowing Green, the dark background enhances the luminosity to both insect and foliage.

Entries were judged by social media influencer and creator Emma Mitchell,  garden photographer Richard Bloom, and Editor of RHS magazine The Garden, Chris Young.

Chris Young said: “At a time when so many of us are staying at home due to Covid-19, these photographs give a much-needed connection to the outside world. For me they are a real visual tonic, a boost to help with our personal health and wellbeing, and a positive reminder of the wonderful world that lies outside our doors". 

(Image credit: Helen McLain)

Overall winner
Chicago prairie by Helen McLain from Illinois, USA
The dramatic and imposing backdrop of Chicago’s skyline at sunset contrasts with swaths of mostly native plants flowering in Lurie Garden, Millennium Park – all infused with pink tones and a wonderfully romantic glow. Taken in the USA using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the image also won the Urban Gardening category.

(Image credit: Elliot Connor)

Overall Young Winner
Glowing Green by Elliot Connor from Sydney, Australia
A tiny bush cricket (Tettigoniidae family) is captured perching on a leaf within the expanse of Garigal National Park in Sydney, Australia. The dark background adds luminosity to both insect and foliage, and was shot on a Canon EOS 1300D using a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens. The image also won the Under 18s category.

(Image credit: Serhii Miroshnyk)

Welcoming Garden Wildlife category winner
Ant Plant Guard by Serhii Miroshnyk from Kiev, Ukraine
A red wood ant (Formica rufa) seemingly stands guard to protect the cluster of sporangia surrounding it. These tiny structures hold the spores of Kukushkin flax (Polytrichum commune), a type of moss. The image, captured in Kiev, Ukraine, was taken on a Nikon D7000.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Kazda)

Abstract category winner
Mandala with Maple Samaras by Elizabeth Kazda from Wisconsin, USA
A clever circular arrangement of the winged fruit (samara) of a maple (Acer) form a mandala, which represents the self-perpetuating life cycle of the seed. Created using Nikon D850 and a light pad that was rotated at the photographer’s studio in Wisconsin.

(Image credit: Daniel Dearman)

All About Plants
Helleborus by Matthew Dearman from Middlesex, UK
Portrait of a Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) bathed in bright winter morning sunlight, reveals the beauty of the flower’s color and markings. Photographed at Myddleton House Gardens, Enfield, UK, using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

(Image credit: Leo Justice)

Under 11s category winner
Bursting light by Leo Justice. 
Sunlight radiating through trees and a misting of water sprayed onto orchids adds a magical atmosphere to this view of Singapore Botanic Gardens. It was captured by the photographer lying on the ground, looking upwards.

(Image credit: Richard Turner)

Celebrating Gardens
A Winter’s day at Wisley by Richard Turner from Guildford, UK
Early morning sunlight falls through the trees at the top of the Heather Landscape at RHS Garden Wisley, in southeast England. It illuminates the spiky form of Yucca rostrata in the border, and heightens the quietness of the garden before visitors arrive.

(Image credit: Steve Palmer)

Social Media category winner
Busy bees by Steve Palmer
As if adding dots of detail to a tapestry, honeybees (Apis mellifera) feast on vibrantly colored, round allium flowerheads. These were on display at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, which is usually held in the UK at the height of summer.

All the winning images and runners up can be viewed online.

The 2021 RHS Photographic Competition is now open for entries. Encouraging photographers of all levels, 2021 will introduce new categories including ‘Macro’ and ‘Indoor Gardening’. Entry is free and should submitted  at by 10am on 01 February 2021.

Read more:
14 tips for fantastic flower photography at home

Use long lenses for great floral photos in your garden

Capture flower photos outside with a DIY studio

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.