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A shared love of gardens is picture perfect

Liz and Rachael in a garden at Manor Park, one of Liz’s designs that Rachael is capturing on camera as part of the pilot for her garden book approach

When garden designer, Liz Newport, and photographer, Rachael de la Mare, met at a Dacre yoga class, they didn’t expect to have gardens in common. Today, Liz is supporting Rachael in a new business venture to capture and record the glory of Cumbrian gardens through the seasons.

Liz, who trades as Buzy Lizzie Garden Design, loves the challenge of creating planting schemes and gardens that look good throughout the year. Rachael, who recently worked with Penrith Town Council and the Penrith in Bloom team on a celebratory film, has always enjoyed capturing the personality and life of plants and gardens on camera. Together, they’ve developing Rachael’s concept of creating very special photographic keepsake journals of clients’ gardens.

Rachael, who is originally from Guernsey but now lives near Penrith, has been a professional photographer for over 15 years. “I love to capture stories in my images and gardens have that element of narrative and continual change. They’re also very personal to the gardeners who’ve worked so hard to create them and there are often special memories, particular plants and other nostalgic elements that give the garden character. I want to preserve those memories and moments and reflect the life and personality of the gardeners and their gardens in a way that can be kept and shared. A book is ideal but I’m also aware that some people may prefer a keepsake box of prints or a framed selection instead.”

To make the concept a reality, Rachael was looking for gardens that she could photograph and capture in this way. She wanted to test and hone her ideas and get feedback from the owners and gardeners before launching the idea as a commercial option.

“That’s where I could help,” says Liz, “as I’ve designed and developed over 500 gardens in and around Cumbria during my 15 years in business in a variety of styles, each one fitting a particular client’s brief and the specific location. I was pretty sure that some of my clients would be happy to let Rachael and her camera in through the coming year to capture the different seasons. So far, the response has been really encouraging and it’s definitely looking like something that could develop into a new strand of work for Rachael.”

The pilot project for the new venture covers five different Buzy Lizzie gardens, including a couple at Manor Park in Penrith. “I’m thoroughly enjoying visiting the gardens,” says Rachael, “and I can see that, over the course of a year, I’ll get to know the owners and their gardens really well and learn a lot about how this idea could work out. I am sure there are proud gardeners out there who will see the value and appreciate the pleasure of having a photographic record of their garden through the seasons. I’m already getting interest in commissions to do this sort of work elsewhere so working with Liz to fine tune the ideas has been invaluable.”

Liz is also very conscious of the challenge to design a garden that has something special to enjoy right through the year: “Spring bulbs and June flowering are quite easy but having the evergreen structure in place for the winter frosts and planting for the late summer into the autumn need careful thought. Seeing Rachael capture one of my gardens on camera is giving me new ideas too!”

Members of the Asteraceae family create autumn colour in a garden

“For instance, later flowering clematis species are worth including on any trellis or pergola so that there’s flowering later in the year once the roses and honeysuckle are fading,” she says, “and I also love the daisy family (Asteraceae). Rudbeckia, Echinacea and others are at their best in the autumn and bring vivid colour to a garden at this time of year.”

A shared love of gardens and mutual support is definitely creating a flowering business relationship.

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