"Iced Nigella" blends two images of the Nigella plant, commonly known as love-in-a-mist. with polarized ice.
Photo: Dianne English

Some photographers like to capture people; others like to capture the stories of the botanical world, from our backyards to our gardens and wildlands. That’s the premise behind the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew’s International Garden Photographer of the Year Award, whose winners were announced Friday.

This is the competition’s 12th year celebrating the wide world of plants. The winning photographs include something for everyone to appreciate, from abstract dried leaves to gardens full of lavender, the mountainous terrain of Patagonia, or squirrels in search of berries. The competition’s overall winner was Jill Welham of the United Kingdom, who shot flowering plants found alongside onions and scallions using an old, complicated photographic technique called wet cyanotype. Other winners hail from Hungary, Montenegro, and Indonesia.

“Jill’s image has proven that even old techniques are still capable of relevance, originality, and immense beauty,” said the award’s Managing Director Tyrone McGlinchey, in an emailed press release.

This year, all the categories—from botanical abstractions to gardens—include over 100 winners and finalists. We’re sharing winners of the Abstract Views category, which barely feel like images of plants at all.

The winner, “Fireworks,” features three Allium flower heads.
Photo: Jill Welham
“Sunflower Swirls” came in second place and blends several images of sunflower petals together.
Photo: Jane Simmonds
“Iced Windflowers” displays these stunning pink flowers blended with ice.
Photo: Dianne English
“Cherry Blossom” shows photos of cherry blossoms shot at different exposures.
Photo: Jo Stephen
“Berkheya purpurea” shows the flower commonly known as the South African thistle.
Photo: Jacky Parker
“Lillies in a Pond” shows an almost paint-like portrayal of lilies in the Botanical Garden of Naples.
Photo: Alma Bibolotti
“The Other Side” shows the underside of poppies.
Photo: Lizzy Petereit
“Dandelion,” finalist, combines images of a dandelion, morning dew, and grass.
Photo: Jo Stephen

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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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