Saxon Holt

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PO Box 1826 Novato, California 94948

Saxon Holt is a professional garden photographer who has been photographing gardens for 25 years and lectures about the importance of "seeing" the essence of a garden.
He is also the Photography Program Director at San Francisco Botanical Garden

w: - Portfolio, credits

w: Mental Seeds - blog

w: PhotoShelter - On-line Galleries


Additional Information

Latest Book - The American Meadow Garden


I love sharing what I have learned as a photojournalist.  I have spent 30 years photographing gardens as joyful and important work.  The joy is obvious, as I seek to celebrate plants; but the importance is found in the power of photographs to influence how we garden.

Gardens fill many purposes and are important for many reasons, from caring for the earth to caring for our souls.  I don’t need to convince anyone reading this that gardens are important and have meaning.

My job as a garden photographer is not simply to find the beauty in gardens, but to find that meaning and to spread success.  I want others to learn from what I have seen.

And since gardens seem to bring out the cameras in all of us I want to share what I have learned as a photographer.  The more good photographs we have the better we can promote gardens to the uninitiated.

So, I give two kinds of presentations depending on the audience.  All my presentations feature photos from the many books and magazine stories you may have seen.  I always include some behind the scenes stories of the thinking behind a composition and tips on how the photo was captured.

But some audiences are mostly interested in the gardens, others are more interested in the photographs.  What sort of presentation would your group like?

I have written a book on garden photography, The PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workshop and lead hands-on workshops, so I tailor a photography workshop for any level of expertise.

Or I can give a lecture about the books and gardens I feel most passionately about.  My work increasingly focuses on the relationship between gardens and the land, seeking a sustainable aesthetic that can enhance both gardener and the earth. There is nothing more important in gardening than sustainability, and in all my garden lectures I share tips on best gardening practices I have learned from my books.

In the seminal book Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates, I wanted "to change the aesthetic of what we expect to see in a garden photograph". In other recent books, The American Meadow Garden with John Greenlee (Timber Press ) and Hardy Succulents with Gwen Kelaidis (Storey Publishing) I explored gardens that have an authentic connection to place.

Let me create a program for you that celebrates the best in gardening with photos from the best of gardens.


Saxon Holt owns an on-line resource for garden photographs and is the Photography Program Director at San Francisco Botanical Garden where he has creating a series of lectures and workshops from The PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workshop.  Professionally, he is a member of American Society of Media Photographers, American Society of Picture Professionals, and is a Fellow of Garden Writers Association.


What is a "Good" Garden Photograph ?

This 45 minute presentation, illustrated with published garden photographs, begins with the basics of what makes up a photograph beautiful. We will touch on Composition, Light, Lenses, Color, and Technical Quality. The presentation builds on this first level to discuss how a good photograph can Reveal, Inspire, and Provoke, and culminates at a third level of consideration whereby a good photograph needs to communicate with Intent from a position of Authenticity. Presented to Western Horticulural Society, Seattle Garden Club


Lawn Reform

This 45 minute presentation presents workable examples of lawn alternatives that can work in any part of the country.  For many gardeners traditional, lush mowed lawns are increasingly recognized as a wasteful and boring use of limited garden space.  There are so many more practical, fun, and ecologically appropriate uses of lawns - from edible landscaping, to patios, to meadows.  Saxon has seen these gardens in his travels around the country for books such as The American Meadow Garden (with John Greenlee), Small Patios (with Hazel White), and Beautiful No-Mow Yards (with Evelyn Hadden) and will show example and explain why they work where they do.  Presented at San Francisco Garden Show

The Aesthetics of Sustainability

This 60 minute presentation begins with the premise that The Camera Always Lies. What we see in a picture, the aesthetic, often conveys unintentional messages. With the current interest in sustainability it is important to show pictures that reinforce the actual tenets of sustainability. Using examples from the award winning books: The American Meadow Garden, Hardy Succulents, and Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates, the presentation uses authentic gardens to discuss the elements of sustainability and shows how we need to accept a new aesthetic in garden photography. Presented to San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, Seattle Garden Show, Sacramento Lawn and Garden Show.

Success with Succulents

Taken from Hardy Succulents, the 2008 book that received awards from both The American Horticultural Society and Garden Writers of America, this 45 minute presentation celebrates succulents in tough climates. Photographed in gardens as cold as zone 5 from Connecticut to Colorado, and as wet as humid east Texas and rainy Washington State the presentation shows how gardeners can make good homes for these tough plants in almost any climate. Presented to Northwest Horticultural Society and Southern California Horticultural Society and numerous Garden Club of America chapters.

Picture the Garden

This program package is based on the garden photography workshop series at The San Francisco Botanical Garden and can be adapted to other venues. A presentation on "Good Garden Photography" is followed either that evening or the following morning by a hands on workshop for a limited number of students.


California 94948

Photo Gallery

  • A paean to grassy, no-mow landscapes that shiver, shimmer and wave - Ketzel Levine )
  • '...this book is spectacular!' Ray Rogers, American Horticultural Society
  • ' of the year's best new garden guides.' -- Country Living Gardener
  • “I LOVE this gorgeous, inspiring, info-packed book for gardening in the Age of Climate Change and highly recommend it. “

Click here for Slideshow. You can also click on any of the photos to start slideshow.

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Audience Reviews

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johngray from modesto,ca - 03/02/2012 13:40:24

Saxon presented a great program on photagraphy in the garden at ourJanuary meeting of the Modesto Garden Club. We had over 300 attend and everyone thought his program was innovative and very educational. He is a super guy and he does a great program.

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Napa County MG seminar

Penny Proteau from Napa, Ca - 02/23/2012 17:27:13

Very informative presentation and Fun

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Saxon at Modesto Garden Club

Kathy Short from Modesto, CA - 01/21/2012 15:13:03

While not a photographer my self,I brought a few friends along who were. Well, we ALL were extremely happy to have attended. Saxon's presentation revealed not only knowledge and skills in photography but also of gardens and the relationship of gardens within a larger landscape. He gave us new ways to view and add to skills and enjoyment.