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Clive Nichols

Garden and flower photographer

Clive Nichols is one of the finest garden photographers in England. His images have appeared in hundreds of books as well as in countless magazines, calendars and brochures. All anthophiles will love poring over the pages of his latest book, 'Brilliant English Gardens', which is filled with glorious images of the most beautiful sunlit gardens, taken by Clive during that golden hour, when most of us are still in the land of the nod.

Image of Pettifers in Oxfordshire by Clive

Your three favourite flowers? 

Tulip, magnolia, echinacea

Tell us about your childhood garden?

It was in rural Worcestershire. I remember picking fruits like gooseberries and raspberries as well as apples and pears which we then sold to passers-by. I had two brothers and we were mad on cricket so the garden was also used as a cricket ground!

Who or what inspired your career choice?

Initially I was a landscape photographer and was inspired very much by some of the great American landscape photographers – especially Ansel Adams, David Muench and Tom Till. When I started taking garden and flower photos it was Georgia O’Keefe, Karl Blossfeldt and the Dutch photographer Ron Van Dongen that I took much of my inspiration from.

What is a typical day in the life of Clive?

I don’t really have a typical day as my work is so varied. In the summer I sometimes wake at about 2 or 3am and will think nothing of driving 100 miles to be in a garden for dawn. In the winter I will catch up on lost sleep and sometimes not get up until 8am. A lot of the time I am in my office with my PA Julie, processing and captioning photos that I have taken that are then placed in my library. I have over 110,000 pictures in there which are available for purchase. When I am out shooting, I will spend hours in gardens, talking to owners, walking around the garden, waiting for the light to improve. In the winter I will relax by watching box sets, visiting the gym, sauna and steam, or cook some nice food (I was a chef in an Italian Restaurant when I left Uni before switching to Photography) I usually go to bed quite early – around 9pm in the winter but obviously later in the summer months.

No garden is complete without


Something we’d find:

·         On your bedside table: nothing – I don’t like clutter!

·         In your flower arrangement: tulips

·         In your garden shed: kindling wood for my woodburner

The flaw you wish you didn’t have? 

Inflated ego

What would you be in another life?

A professional cricketer or rugby player

Guiding principles? 

Work hard, eat well, show respect

Who is a horticultural hero?

Claus Dalby, Piet Oudolf, Gina Price

What is the one flower or plant you’d never plant in your garden, but don’t detest when you see others plant it? 

If I didn’t detest it in another garden, then I would consider it for my own – so basically none

If there was a fire, and you could only keep one book on gardens or gardening, what would it be? 

My latest book, Brilliant English Gardens

For posterity, what would you like your work to be known for?

Capturing the beauty of gardens and flowers through the seasons


Contact:     insta@clivenichols

Capturing gardens at dawn: Pettifers in Oxfordshire.

 Quick fire: some favourite things 

·         Book (fiction): Watership Down

·         Film: The Green Mile

·         Painting: Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights

·         Smell: hyacinths

·         Meal: tandoori king prawn curry

·         Travel Destination: Corfu

·         A cause near and dear to me: Perennial – a charity that looks after ex gardeners

·         Place to go for inspiration: Provence

·         A great walk near where you live: Compton Verney

·         Thing to collect obsessively: illustrated garden books

·         Museum: Natural History Museum

·         Favourite person to follow on Instagram: Claus Dalby

·         Garden in the UK: Pettifers

·         Garden anywhere else: Marqueyssac in the Dordogne


Clive Nichols
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