Indra Woodward, aged eight, from 11th Newham West Scout Group and 11-year-old Theo Harding-Rolls from Thomas’s Clapham School have been named RHS Young Herb Photographers of the Year in a new competition for young people. The runners-up are Sophie Henderson (age six) from Stonham Aspal C of E VA Primary School in Suffolk and Rowan Atchison (age15) from Lomond School in Argyll and Bute
The competition was launched by Vitacress, the UK’s largest grower and supplier of fresh herbs for the UK retail market, and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening, a nationwide initiative to inspire and support schools to provide children with gardening opportunities. More than 340 entries were received, illustrating a huge variety of herbs growing in school gardens, kitchen gardens, allotments, and exotic holiday destinations.
Indra’s beautiful image of borage (Borago officinalis), photographed in the Peak District, was chosen by the judges as the winner of the 5 to 10 age category for its exquisite detail, clarity, and colour. Theo’s photograph of rosemary (Rosmarinus) in the sun and rain was a standout winner in the 11 to 17 age category due to the drama of the herb taken against a dark background balanced by soft raindrops. Both winners will receive an iPad Air for themselves and £500 worth of horticultural materials for their school or group.
Sophie was chosen as the runner-up in the 5 to 10 age category for her photograph of cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which showed off the herb’s structural magnificence against a moody sky. Rowan’s Greek basil (Ocimum minimum) was beautifully composed and showed incredible detail of each leaf. The two runners-up will receive an iPad Mini for themselves and £250 of horticultural materials for their schools.
In addition to the four prizewinners, the judges selected a number of photographs that will be displayed in a special photographic exhibition at the RHS London Botanical Art Show on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 February 2016.
The judging panel comprised representatives from Vitacress and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, as well as herb expert and broadcaster Jekka McVicar, chair of the RHS Herb Group Lady Bacon and Garden Media Guild photographer of the year 2014 Jason Ingram.
Alana Tapsell, Schools’ Communications Officer for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, said: “We were delighted with the response to this competition and so impressed by the talent that we were presented. The quality of some of these photos was breathtaking; it’s incredible to see children as young a five have such an eye for detail. We are thrilled to be able to display some of these images at the exhibition next February and show what our younger generations are capable of!”
Vitacress’s Chris Moncrieff added: “Vitacress was proud to sponsor this competition. As the UK’s leading fresh herb producer, it is fantastic to see so many children getting involved and interacting with nature, and if that’s through photography then that’s fantastic. The entries were really imaginative and we saw great use of colour and detail. Picking the winners was really tricky.”
Vitacress is the UK’s largest grower and supplier of fresh herbs for the UK retail market. It is based in West Sussex where it has two nurseries. The herb division, established in the 1960s growing salad crops, began producing fresh herbs in 1989. Vitacress supplies more than 16 million fresh living potted herbs each year and more than 23 million packs of fresh cut and bunched herbs per year. The company offers a core range of nine herbs grown in pots and 16 different cut herbs, ranging from popular herbs used in everyday cooking such as coriander, basil, mint and rosemary, through to more specialist herbs such as lemon grass and lime leaves.
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening inspires and supports more than 22,000 schools across the UK with their gardening activities. RHS research has shown that gardening can help children develop by teaching them life skills and improving their wellbeing.