Tiny Vignettes of Garden Beauty Come to Life in These Macro Photos

'Mayflies'. (Photo: Petar Sabol/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

Sometimes, you can't appreciate how spectacular a flower is until you get really close to it. The International Garden Photographer of the Year holds a contest every year just for such macro-sized photos. These 18 images make an ordinary flower petal or leaf come to life on a grand scale and show you just how magical these individual garden players can be.

This year's grand prize winner is Petar Sabol for his photograph of mayflies seen above. "The gorgeous, enriching light of a new day covered this pair ofmayflies, basking on a backlit Papaver," Sabol wrote in his submission. The judges selected his image because "aside from the beautiful, uplifting lighting, it is the composition which has really elevated this image. The gentle curve of the Papaver coupled with the slope of the two Mayfly tails work together to form a harmony of shape and structure, from both animal and botanical elements."

The competition is open to amateur and professional photographers of all ages. The judges also awarded second- and third-place awards, plus finalists, highly commended and commended categories.

Second Place

'Salad Burnet Flower'. (Photo: Ian Gilmour/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"It is only with a macro lens that the true beauty of these tiny flowers of Sanguisorba minor can be appreciated." — Ian Gilmour

Third Place

'Unfurling'. (Photo: Ashley Moore/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"At dusk, the gentle sunlight highlighted the densely coiled inflorescence of this Phacelia. At first glance, one might suspect they were caterpillars." — Ashley Moore


'Bodhi Leaf'. (Photo: Lotte Grønkjær-Funch/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I purchased this bodhi leaf (Ficus religiosa) from my local flower shop and used a calla lily placed behind the leaf to form the rich emanating colors." — Lotte Grønkjær-Funch


'Common Spotted Orchid'. (Photo: Nigel Burkitt/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I love finding native orchids; it’s a real joy to see them. This backlit Dactylorhiza fuchsii looked so vibrant, shimmering like a jewel." — Nigel Burkitt


'Anemone de Caen'. (Photo: Jacky Parker/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"This image is a creative edit of the beautiful spring flowering white Anemone coronaria flower, also known as the poppy anemone, Spanish marigold, or windflower." — Jacky Parker


'Jumping Spider'. (Photo: Richard Kubica/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I used a macro lens plus a magnifier and focus stacking to reveal the full details of this amazing little predator." — Richard Kubica

Highly Commended

'Mother'. (Photo: Rob Blanken/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"The newly laid eggs and sparkling light provided a complementary contrast to the dark amphibious head." — Rob Blanken

Highly Commended

'Photonic Bliss V'. (Photo: Petar Sabol/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I used a star filter to create this unusual and dramatic effect, capturing a ray of light directed at the plant and the three marbled white butterflies." — Petar Sabol

Highly Commended

'Green Apple'. (Photo: Zhang Lihua/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I couldn’t help noticing the similarity between these leaves and two apples, one red, one green. When observed carefully nature can always give a new perspective." — Zhang Lihua

Highly Commended

'On Fire'. (Photo: Claudia de Jong/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"The onset of spring beckons tiny strands of fire from the ground from the moss — Polytrichum strictum. A double in-camera exposure helped to bring more depth and vibrancy to the image." — Claudia de Jong

Highly Commended

'Astrantia major'. (Photo: Jacky Parker/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I wanted to showcase the beauty of the Astrantia flower and bud by utilizing the contrast of a white background." — Jacky Parker


'Miró's Garden'. (Photo: Elizabeth Kazda/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"To capture this scene, I placed pieces of dried Cotinus and water on layers of glass. The color and light come from my technique of using spectral light from a prism to illuminate subjects. This photograph was created in the style of Spanish abstract artist Joan Miró." — Elizabeth Kazda


'Poppy'. (Photo: Jane Dibnah/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I chose to focus on the centre of the poppy with its crowned structure and bejewelled stamens. The outer petals were kept out of focus to draw the eye to this regal focal point." — Jane Dibnah


'Dancing Matches'. (Photo: Aleksander Ivanov/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"When properly combined together even the individual parts of the flower can make a beautiful and curious composition." — Aleksander Ivanov


'It's a Small World'. (Photo: Trui Heinhuis/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I was shooting a snail hanging on a stem amongst a beautiful field of poppies when a grasshopper leapt into view." — Trui Heinhuis


'Heaven'. (Photo: Petar Sabol/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"I used a special lens to create beautiful soap bubble bokeh; a perfect complement to the majesty of the natural subjects." — Petar Sabol


'Frozen Sphagnum'. (Photo: Tina Claffey/International Garden Photographer of the Year)

"In sub-zero temperatures in the heart of the Killaun Bog, I noticed that the Sphagnum mosses beneath the water surface were frozen, suspended in time in their green, mystical beauty." — Tina Claffey