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Little Tributes to Chatsworth Flowers | Part 1 Garden Peonies

A large proportion of my film photography of recent years has been created from the beautiful light, colours and textures of one of my favourite places in the world, the gardens at Chatsworth House. It’s funny and wonderful to think of the unexpected paths life can take us along, and my love of Chatsworth is a prime example. A combination of random factors and intuitive desires led to me meeting, falling in love with and marrying my husband. We settled in his home town of Chesterfield on fairly practical grounds after saving up for our first home a few years after we left university. Although I’d visited (and loved) nearby Matlock Bath once as a child, I didn’t have any other connections to Derbyshire, or any deep longing to spend particular time there. But we ended up living there happily for over a decade, and a practical location choice gradually became a dearly beloved home over the years I spent there. And out of the many beautiful places I’ve had the privilege to spend time, the gardens at Chatsworth House are one of my very favourites. One of the things I love most about them are the ever-changing seasonal displays from the trees, plants and flowers. Our strolls around the grounds inspired the deepening of my interest in flowers, and during this time I learnt more and more about the names and flowering seasons of many of my favourite blooms. On an early summer visit a couple of years ago there was a gorgeous display of fluffy, fragrant peonies at the bottom of the kitchen garden, and unfortunately I had run out of film! I took a few iPhone photos but they really didn’t do justice to the colourful array. I haven’t yet managed to make it back to Chatsworth in peony season to correct this, but I was so excited to find out that our new back garden thousands of miles away has peonies, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting their arrival. So here they are, a mini collection in homage to my Chatsworth peonies, and I’m glad I popped out on their first proper day in bloom to capture them at their best (alongside a pretty Salvia) despite the cloudy conditions, because a heavy downpour shortly afterwards has made them sadly ragged already. But they’ll be back again next year!

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All shot on Fuji 400H film with Contax 645 and dev/scan at Canadian Film Lab

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