Novelli's floral tribute to Cheshire (with audio)
PUBLISHED: 11:26 07 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 20 February 2013
Cheshire is synonymous with flora, fauna and festivals, writes landscape photographer Alan Novelli.
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As the old proverb goes: April showers bring forth May flowers and travelling around our Cheshire countryside in what is traditionally regarded as the final month of spring, will prove the worth of this saying.
May is a time for traditions: quaint English village customs are revived, warmer weather graces our shores and its a time when flowers and trees burst forth and blossom into life.
We are fortunate to live in a land that experiences great changes over the four seasons, and in a county blessed with topographical diversity and an abundance of chocolate box scenes.
The gardens at Cholmondeley Castle should not be missed in late spring. The Castle is home to one of the oldest families in Cheshire and enjoys uninterrupted views over its 800-acres of parkland.
Impeccable formal gardens, sweeping lawns and landscaped lakes are set among stunning trees, producing a magical setting for this wonderful stately home. The gardens are said by many to be among the most romantically beautiful gardens ever seen.
In the accompanying image a clear and calm Cheshire morning has transformed the lake within its Temple Garden into a looking-glass, while above is a cornucopia of colour. Vibrant pink and yellow blossoms vie for attention among the figures and follies populating the grounds.
From one formal setting we travel to another, heading north to Tatton Park where the delights of its small Japanese Garden are hidden away within the 50 acres of lovingly tendered gardens.
It came into existence after Alan de Tattons visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at White City in London in 1910 and is today considered to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.
The Shinto Shrine, seen in our image along with many other of the gardens artefacts, was brought over from Japan and the important elements of plants, stones and rocks have been carefully placed to strike a harmonious balance within the garden.
Adding to that atmosphere are the flowing lines of the stone-arched Japanese Bridge leading to the Temple which gracefully spans the tranquil lake.
Although flowers as such do not form a major part of any Japanese Garden, they do utilise many types of Japanese maples or acers for colour, interspersing these with evergreen shrubs to provide interest all year round.
To round off a trio of formal gardens we visit Arley Hall to delight in its Scented Garden subtly hidden away between gaps in the yew trees.
Here atop one of its circular walled and raised beds stands a magnificent wisteria in full bloom. Its pale violet flowers are stunning and its glorious creamy vanilla scent invades the nostrils.
We leave the formal settings of Cheshires stately homes and country estates now to seek out some everyday locations that provide a bounty of late spring colour.
At Cotton Hall Farm on the outskirts of Tarvin we find a lovely Cheshire brick farmhouse set within a landscape of vibrant yellow rapeseed fields.
Also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rapaseed and canola, this flowering member of the mustard family brightens up the countryside, transforming the green hues of spring into a landscape photographers dream.
The rickety old fence in the centre of the image adds to the traditional atmosphere and a flowering white hawthorne tree completes the picture.
Over in Tattenhall is the attractive Grade II listed Parish Church of St Alban. Its hidden away up a tiny road magnificently framed by a bright red blossom tree. The tree complements the Ashlar red sandstone brickwork of the churchs exterior and boundary wall.
St Albans tower and major parts of the church date from the early 16th century and John Douglas, Cheshires famous architect son, had a hand in remodelling it in the latter part of the 19th century.
In Sandbach, spring is also blossoming and a fine terraced row of traditional Cheshire magpie black and white timber-framed cottages are framed by the delicate pink blossoms of a tree.
The use of a telephoto lens has allowed me to crop in tightly on the cottages, compressing their perspective, almost creating an abstract image. This scene is reminiscent of many photographic opportunities to be found within the county during springtime.
While May is synonymous with Flora, it would be remiss of me not to include at least one image of its fauna.
While photographing one of the gardens in this article, I happened upon a row of glorious chive plants. Their stunning display of full purple flowers was a pleasure to behold.
Now Im not normally an insect photographer, but on closer inspection I discovered that the chives were literally covered with bumble bees going about their business and decided to portray one.
After framing up a particularly pleasing bloom it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment. After considerable patience the bumble bee in the accompanying image obliged and settled long enough for me to capture an image that I feel sums up May.
A feature about this month would not be complete without a scene of one of our English traditions. We find the children of Whitegate Primary School dancing around the maypole at its annual May fete.
Maypole dancing has been an English custom since the Middle Ages and the bright ribbons and garlands, seasonal floral displays and rows of flags are a welcome addition to any country event.
To see more of Alan Novellis images visit his website at www.alannovelli.co.uk