Sunset garden shot in Chicago wins photography competition

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A dramatic image of an urban garden framed by the Chicago skyline has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual photography competition.

The overall winning picture by Helen McLain, from Illinois, US, was picked from thousands of images of gardens, plants and nature from around the world which were entered into the RHS photographic competition.

The image captures the backdrop of the US city’s skyline at sunset contrasting with swathes of plants flowering in Lurie Garden, Millennium Park.

Glowing Green won the youth competition (Elliot Connor)
Glowing Green won the youth competition (Elliot Connor/RHS/PA)

The winner of the youth section of the RHS photographic competition was Elliot Connor, 15, from Sydney, Australia, who captured a shot of a tiny bush cricket perching on a leaf within Garigal National Park.

Winners, along with second and third place pictures, were selected in eight categories: celebrating gardens; welcoming garden wildlife; all about plants; abstract; urban gardening; social media; under-18s (age 11-17); and under-11s.

A ninth “portfolio” category invited entrants to submit six images in a series and will be judged later this year, the RHS said.

Busy Bees came first in the social media category (Steve Palmer)
Busy Bees came first in the social media category (Steve Palmer/RHS/PA)

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

Mr Young, chairman of the judging panel, 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.

Ant Plant Guard was the winner in the welcoming gardening wildlife category (Serhii Miroshnyk)
Ant Plant Guard was the winner in the welcoming gardening wildlife category (Serhii Miroshnyk/RHS/PA)

The 2021 RHS photographic competition is now open for entries, with new categories including “macro” to explore close-ups of plants and “indoor gardening”.

The winning photographs are available to view online at

Helleborus came out top in the all about plants category (Matthew Dearman)
Helleborus came out top in the all about plants category (Matthew Dearman/RHS/PA)

– Overall adult winner, and winner of the urban gardens category: Chicago prairie by Helen McLain, Chicago Millennium Park, Lurie Garden;

– Overall young winner and winner of the 11-17 category: Glowing Green by Elliot Connor, Garigal National Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Other category winners:

– Abstract: Mandala with Maple Samaras by Elizabeth Kazda, Wisconsin, USA

– All about plants: Helleborus by Matthew Dearman, Myddelton House Gardens, Enfield, UK;

– Celebrating gardens: A Winter’s day at Wisley by Richard Turner, RHS Wisley Garden, Surrey;

– Social media: Busy Bees by Steve Palmer, RHS show at Tatton Park, Knutsford;

– Welcoming garden wildlife: Ant Plant Guard by Serhii Miroshnyk, Kyiv, Ukraine;

– Under-11s: Bursting light by Leo Justice, Botanic Gardens in Singapore.

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