First Signs of Spring 2020 Photo Contest Winners

We are excited to announce the winner of the First Signs of Spring Photo Contest: Lynn O’Shaughnessy, with over 700 votes!

Fine Gardening reached out to Lynn to learn how she got such a cool photo and to learn more about her, her garden, and her photography. Lynn won a $500 gift card to and will be featured in issue #195 of Fine Gardening magazine, which will be on stands later this summer. Second prize went to Marsha Lomis, and third prize went to Ruth Little.

1st Prize Winner: Lynn O’Shaughnessy

Photo: Lynn O’Shaughnessy
  1. When and why did you first start gardening?

I started gardening as a child. I would much rather have been digging in the dirt and planting things than playing with dolls. My dad enjoyed growing vegetables and was my mentor and encourager.

As an adult, I just played around with putting flowers around my house, but nothing serious until about 10 years ago when I began to transform the shady areas in my front yard into beautiful gardens. I am still creating new areas. It is like potato chips—you can’t have just one.

  1. Why did you take up photography? Do you take pictures professionally or as a hobby?

I have also been taking photos since I was a kid and started with a Brownie camera. I eventually graduated to a Canon SLR, then went digital. Recently I have been working with my Samsung S10+ phone, since it is always handy.

I had the opportunity some 40 years ago to take a weeklong photography workshop from leading nature photographers John Shaw and Larry West. That workshop fanned the flames of my desire to do nature photography. I never did it professionally, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending time out in nature in search of photos. Right now with the Covid-19 thing going on, I am doing little mini lessons with my two garden clubs on Facebook and by e-mail, then encouraging them to go out and try some things for themselves in their own backyards.

  1. What is the story behind this photo? How did you capture it?

I found that when I went out to photograph my Hellebores it was difficult to get a good photo because the flowers were mostly facing downward. This led me to think, “Why not use selfie mode on my phone?” It worked beautifully! So I have been playing with this technique ever since. I have even gotten some beautiful photos of the bottom sides of a flower that was facing upward. This photo was taken this year on April 2. My hellebores are one of the first plants to flower in the spring.

  1. What are you going to buy with your gift card from Monrovia?

I have extensive shade gardens that I want to redo and move things around. I have been looking for shade plants that also are attractive or that attract pollinators. I am also looking for native plants. I went on to the Monrovia website and saw that they have 94 pages to look at. On the first page alone I found two things I want: Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ and Black Negligee snakeroot. I have no doubt that Monrovia will have plenty to choose from.

  1. What is your favorite part of gardening?

The JOY I get from getting my hands in the dirt, communing with my plants, creating each garden area, being out where it is quiet, and watching things grow.

  1. Anything else you would like to tell us?

I have over an acre of garden areas, but my most exciting creation is my sacred geometry circle garden. I started it last summer, and I am doing all the work myself (except for the ground prep, which I hired out). I did the design and wheelbarrowed all the materials in to create it, one shovel at a time. The photo below is one my nephew took from his drone.

It is the final one he took last year before I had to quit for the season. This garden will be made up entirely of Michigan native plants for pollinators and is 100 feet in diameter. I have a greenhouse and learned how to sprout several of my native choices from seed. I am now in the process of getting plants into this new garden.


2nd Prize Winner: Marsha Lomis

“All taken this spring with my iPhone either in my garden or on local trails here in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Spring is an amazing time here, before it gets too hot, and allows me to indulge in my love for early spring bulbs in my shade garden.” Photo: Marsha Lomis

“This brilliantly blue indigo bunting alighted on our picnic table (en route to the feeder). His plumage certainly complemented the early spring blooms of pulmonaria and King Alfred daffodils. These colors inspired the palette of my summer and autumn gardens,” said Marsha Lomis, second prize winner, in her entry to the contest.


3rd Prize Winner: Ruth Little

Photo: Ruth Little

“Spring is an amazing time here, before it gets too hot, and allows me to indulge in my love for early spring bulbs in my shade garden,” said Ruth Little, our third place winner.

Thank you to Lynn, Marsha, and Ruth as well as all of our other entrants. Thanks also to Monrovia for sponsoring such a cool contest!


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View Comments


  1. Esmeralda_Bermudas 05/22/2020

    Great pictures!!!
    I was in awe seeing all these pictures!
    They are all amazing!
    I cannot imagine how's the rest of the pictures that enrolled into this contest. It must have been very hard to choose them!

  2. AshlyHara 04/12/2021

    The Spring season brings excitement to our lives by providing amazing and colorful views of nature. Everyone should participate in gardening activities to play their part to keep the ambiance of the world cool and natural which is very important. Now I have to visit edubirdie source to read reviews about the writers who will help me in writing an essay on this topic.

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