Snapshot: Peter Leadbetter

Peter Leadbetter is a trained Psychologist having completed a Masters Degree at the University of Birmingham in 1976. He now lives in Moseley with his wife, who teaches at the University, and regularly visits Winterbourne to relax and enjoy the garden. We asked Peter to share some of his memories of the garden and the people who make it so special.

Echeveria, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Echeveria, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“Though a grounded pragmatic Psychologist, I am a great believer in the power of the natural world to enhance overall health, mood and wellbeing. I strongly recommend time with nature to my clients and if I had the power to offer prescriptions, Winterbourne would be top of the list in Birmingham. I think of it as a well-kept secret where each person can set their own agenda according to their likes, needs and what works for them.”

The Pink and Blue Border, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Pink and Blue Border, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“I am aware that for many visitors, it is a place to engage with their friends and to walk around deeply engrossed in conversation. I quite often see people on their own and recognise that their time alone is not one of solitude but of addressing personal needs. Most critically, it is a place near the heart of a great city which, if you just allow yourself the time, will help you to relax.”

Vitis coignetiae, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Vitis coignetiae, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“Taking photographs adds to any trip as I look to capture what is special to me. My style tends to be wide and open, or close-up and tight. I tweak shots with Picasa, seeing digital work as only starting with the initial shot: I am not a purist in that sense but I do try to keep my shots authentic. I do not add outrageous colour or shadows to create an image that simply was not there.”

Cacti, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Cacti, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“I share my photographs on Twitter (@peterleadbetter) simply in the hope that others might enjoy them. I do get real pleasure when people respond or retweet: such reactions reaffirm my hope that I am developing some sort of style which some people enjoy. My best comment so far was from a woman who told me that some photographs I shot in my home city of Liverpool made her think differently about the place – quite an accolade!”

Linnaeus' floral clock at the end of the Terrace, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Linnaeus’ floral clock at the end of the Terrace, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“When I look back at my photographs there have been such an array of changes at Winterbourne, yet the overall feel of the place is a constant. The variety of planting, along with some sculptures, has undoubtedly been enhanced. I still feel as though I have sneaked into a wealthy person’s private grounds but then the familiar views, smells and sights reassure me that this is the place I know well.”

The Nut-Walk, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Nut-Walk, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“I was introduced to Winterbourne by a remarkable lady – Hilde Hunt. She was my wife’s old German teacher from the nearby King Edward’s High School. When we moved locally, she visited and immediately adopted me as a surrogate family member, gardener and driver. She was a small but formidable woman who had previously lived in Austria where she was a climber, skier and all-round outdoors person.”

The Pergola, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Pergola, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“As we strolled around the gardens, she told me about her astonishing life including helping Jewish families out of Austria before building a life, family and career in post-war Birmingham. She was a remarkable gardener especially with delicate alpines, tree peonies and azaleas. I liked Hilde as she was strong in her views and yet incredibly generous with her time and skills. She loved Winterbourne and even gave her time as a passionate and knowledgeable volunteer.”

The Walled Garden, photograph by Peter Leadbetter, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Walled Garden, photograph by Peter Leadbetter

“Whenever I come to Winterbourne, I always visit her bench remembering innumerable Sunday morning visits and her accounts of her remarkable travels with family and friends. Towards the end of her life, knowing she’d soon be gone, she told me how much she wished I’d continue to enjoy ‘her garden’ – Winterbourne.”


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