Today’s post features an interview with favourite flower stylist and photographer Ingrid Henningsson.
Ingrid is the curator of the wonderful Of Spring and Summer blog, a treasure trove of flowery delights featuring her writing about blooms and gardens and showcasing her photo shoots.
In 2011, she created the Flickr group Flowers and Vintage, to which hundreds of talented photographers upload their own vintage images. It’s easy to lose an hour or two browsing the hundreds of stunning photos.
Ingrid was an early What You Sow customer and has been incredibly encouraging and supportive during the first few months of my venture. She even featured some What You Sow Washi tape in some of her shoots, like this one featuring purple asters, just beautiful!
I asked Ingrid a few questions about how gardens and flowers have inspired her work.
Can you tell us about your favourite flower styling shoot?
My favourite styling shoot would be where everything falls into place and is just right. It is when Ifind the most gorgeous flowers in absolute perfect condition, when I can pick the perfect vase or container from my collection of props, when the flower arrangement almost creates itself and where the light is beautiful and soft making everything look great in the photograph. Well, of course that never happens, instead the flowers start wilting, I can’t find the right size or colour vase, all the props are the wrong colour, the flower won’t do as they are told and there is too much strong light or not enough daylight. Well, you often have to compromise and it all turns out fine in the end.
Describe your favourite gardens.
One of my favourite gardens is at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent and I have visited it several times. It was created over many years by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. What I love about it is the mix of formal hedging in straight lines and overflowing herbaceous borders. The garden is divided into smaller areas or rooms, each different from the other. There is a restrained but stunningly beautiful white garden, a rose garden and other areas with a riot of colours throughout the year.
Another favourite is Great Dixter, the late Christopher Lloyd’s garden in East Sussex. It is another garden that I have visited many times. I love the abundance of colour and textures; the mixed borders, high maintenance but wonderful to look at and be inspired by.
Where do you live and is there much green space?
I am very lucky because where I live in north London I am quite close to both Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park. Hampstead Heath is a bit wild in areas and has heathland and large ponds. There is also the amazing Kenwood House that is full of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Gainsborough paintings. The Heath is a fantastic place to go for long relaxing walks as well as a place to find inspiration.
Regent’s Park is much more of a manicured city park, but it has many different areas and a large lake with a surprising amount of birdlife. It has an amazing rose garden with hundreds of different roses.
It also has what everybody in the know calls “The Secret Garden”. It is a small, well hidden garden in the centre of the park, very peaceful and quiet and it was originally built for contemplation and meditation.
What memories do you have of gardens when you were a child?
As a child back in Sweden I would spend every summer at our house in the country surrounded by fields, woods, a small stream and a nearby lake. All around the house was a large garden with apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. We also grew strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. A large area was devoted to growing all kinds of vegetables including potatoes and cucumbers.
Ever eaten anything you’ve grown from seed?
As a little girl all the vegetables we ate during the summer months were grown on our land from seeds planted by my father and I.
My husband cooks almost every day with herbs that I grow in our garden.
Do you have any gardening advice to share?
There is no point fighting nature because nature always wins in the end!
Any advice on how to keep slugs at bay?
I am totally organic and I am not very keen on killing things. I just don’t grow plants that slugs love. The only plants that I continue to grow are a few Hostas in pots but some years I just give up and every leaf ends up in shreds! Often it does not matter what you do because the slugs will always find a way to get to the plants and even when you can get rid of some slugs new ones will take their place.
Are there fellow artists you admire who make you think of gardens or cultivation?
The painter Claude Monet’s garden, outside Paris, is a place to visit for anybody who is interested in looking at gardens. Visiting the garden, looking at his paintings and reading about his life have been a great inspiration. The garden and his art were so closely connected and it is fascinating to visit and see the water lily ponds and the Japanese bridge with wisteria.
What is your proudest gardening moment?
Apart from being able to maintain a beautiful and tranquil garden the proudest gardening moments are when something that you’ve planted actually grows and thrives because despite using all the tricks of the trade there is no guaranteeing that a plant will actually grow to its full potential. But as a gardener you are always optimistic and if something bites the dust - it is just an opportunity to plant something new.
Many thanks to Ingrid for sharing her thoughts with us, I’m so excited to see which new colour stories she dreams up as the seasons change throughout the year.