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Films for gardeners


by James Alexander-Sinclair

Sometimes it's OK to say "hang it all" to the garden and spend the day bundled up in the warm, in front of the television.


Garden seen from iron railingsThe weather outside is frightful: rainy, cold and in every way disgusting. It may well be that by the time you read this the weather might be balmy in your part of the country but, just in case…

What can the diligent and conscientious gardener do in such ghastly conditions? To fossick around on either border or lawn will cause more damage than good. You could tidy the shed or do some useful work in the greenhouse, but some days are too miserable even for that.

Sometimes it's OK to say "hang it all" to the garden and spend the day bundled up in the warm, in front of the television. Rather than watching any old nonsense (or even recorded repeats of Gardeners' World) I've been thinking about films which feature great gardens.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but merely a start:

The Secret Garden is an obvious candidate. Based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett book and made in 1993, it also stars Maggie Smith, who can do no wrong, in my eyes.

Greenfingers (2000) starring Helen Mirren (who, if anything, is even more perfect than Maggie Smith), Clive Owen and David Kelly (whom older readers will remember as the one-armed Irish washer up in Robin's Nest). Based on a true story it follows a group of convicts who discover a passion for gardening.

The Draughtsman's Contract (1983). Beautiful Peter Greenaway film about love and lust amongst formal gardens and sweeping landscapes. Filmed at Groombridge Place in Kent, which was also used in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice.

Green Card (1990) starring Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell. A marriage of convenience so he can stay in the USA and she can get the apartment of her dreams. But any gardener will especially remember the fabulous greenhouse on top of the building.

Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol 1 is perhaps not a film noted for its horticulture, being much more concerned with casual dismemberment. However, there is a wonderful scene in a snow-covered Japanese garden. Admittedly it ends up spattered in scarlet, but it looks good up until then.

Atonement. Ghastly film, great gardens - lots of meadows and waving grasses.

Any more?



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Gardeners' World Web User 18/12/2008 at 16:55

I don't know whether this really counts as a garden but .... at this time of year we love watching The Sound of Music .... wouldn't it be fab to have such a beautiful stone verandah with steps leading down to a lake with the Austrian Alps behind?! (Yes - I know that the real von Trapp family home was probably not like that!

Gardeners' World Web User 18/12/2008 at 23:04

I LOVED THAT MOVIE. IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE HOW PEOPLE GOT INTO COUNTRIES THROUGH MARRIAGE. NEWER AND MORE UNIQUE WAYS HAVE BEEN USED SINCE THEN AND WILL PROBABLY CAUSE FURTHER INSPIRATION. I DIDN'T FULLY REALIZED HOW GREEN MY THUMB OR AURA REALLY WAS BACK THEN, BUT NOW THAT I'VE BLOSSOMED INTO A GARDEN NUT, I CAN LOOK BACK AND SEE HORTICULTURAL REASONS FOR SOME OF THE MOVIES THAT I ENJOYED. I'VE RECCOMMENDED THIS MOVIE FOR OTHERS TO LOOK FOR, GUESS I'LL HAVE TO SEARCH IT OUT AGAIN AND SOME OF THE OTHERS MENTIONED TOO. I DO REMEMBER SEEING A MOVIE WHERE PRISONERS GARDENED, BUT I DON'T REMEMBER A ONE-ARMED GARDENER. ANYHOW I'M A CANADIAN AND I LOVE GARDENER'S WORLD. I'M OF DUTCH/BELGIAN DISCENT, TWO GENERATIONS REMOVED, SORT OF. - RAVEN VAN LEISHOUT ravenvanleishout@hotmail.com

Gardeners' World Web User 27/01/2009 at 00:31

Hi... How about Derek Jarman's The Garden.. bit esoteric, but nonetheless lovely... and there was a film in the 80s starring Madhur Jaffrey (yes she of cookery programmes fame) as an Indian woman living in England and making a wonderful garden.... also The Singing Ringing Tree cult children's TV series (got me started in gardening I reckon)... hmmm - will keep thinking. x Elspeth

Gardeners' World Web User 27/01/2009 at 00:37

The film I was thinking of is called The Assam Garden - think it was with Deborah Kerr as well as Madhur Jaffrey and really rather good... x Elspeth

Gardeners' World Web User 02/02/2009 at 11:34

The Singing Ringing Tree gave me nightmares.

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