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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Garden scenes

The bloggers at Gardening Gone Wild ask the question "What movies have inspired your garden making?"

I had to think about this for some time. I've seen a lot of movies in my lifetime. These days I find my movie watching to be tapering off a little. Maybe I'm getting older and my tastes for current movies is waning (it seems that the only movies out nowadays are either animated or based on a comic book). I also find that the older I get, I don't want to see a depressing film. In my college days, I was crazy about the film "Tess". I saw it four times at the theater. Granted, I did write a research paper on the novel and that probably enhanced my interest but the movie enchanted me and yes, there are some nice landscapes to gaze upon. Recently, I started to watch this film again, and just could not go there again. The subject matter and outcome is is just too depressing!

As far as movies about gardening go though, there's just not a lot to choose from. The obvious ones have been mentioned by other bloggers. I too adored "Enchanted April", "Saving Grace", "Green Card" and "Greenfingers".

Ditto for the Merchant/Ivory films. Like many other movie watchers, "A Room With A View" introduced me to these wonderful filmmakers whose works are like a sumptuous dessert that you want to savor. My other favorites are "Maurice" and "Howard's End". I purchased a new Blue-Ray dvd player recently and plopped in "A Room With A View" to test it and was just blown away by the scene where they take a buggy ride in the Italian countryside. Art in motion!

And of course there is "The Secret Garden". I collect editions of this book but it is a book that I didn't discover until I was an adult. I've seen all the film versions as well and my favorite is the most recent, made in 1993. It is a gorgeous film to look at and has a haunting score. It also features the great Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock!

I was thinking about movies that are not necessarily about gardening or English period pieces but movies that had displayed memorable gardens. Oddly enough, the one that comes to my mind first, is in "Bram Stoker's Dracula", released in 1992. I think this is one of the most artistic movies ever made. It features my ideal garden. You step outside your bedroom (or in this case, Lucy Westenra's bedroom) onto a large stone terrace and the garden lies spread out below you, a sumptuous English sunken garden enclosed with green hedges, a large fountain and reflecting pool in the center and bowers of roses dripping from archways around the perimeter.



Of course this garden was created on a movie set. In fact, I recently learned that it was filmed on a set that once housed the large pool where the Esther Williams movies were made. Ah, the magic of Hollywood!

My absolute favorite though is not a movie at all but a television series from the UK. "Rosemary & Thyme", starring Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris, is about two professional gardeners and amateur sleuths who get involved in a murder mystery with every job they take. The gardens in this series were actually filmed on location and are not sets. Some of the locations include manor houses in the English countryside, London's Kew Gardens and Regent's Park, the French Riviera and Italy's Ligurian coast, a Surrey vineyard and the hills of Málaga, Spain. If you haven't seen the series, the complete dvd set is available from Amazon or you can rent it from Netflix.


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22 comments:

  1. I also must say I've been inspired by the Merchant/Ivory films and The Secret Garden. Unfortunately our yard is smaller than just one of those gardens. I guess it's good to have a goal :)

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  2. I've never watched any of that. Should check is any of those CDs available in our local stores. Thank you, Philip!

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  3. How interesting-loved this post! Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. My favorites of the one's you listed were Howard's End and A Room With a View. I have also watched Rosmary and Thyme on PBS and while I found the plot very contrived, the scenery was good and when they spoke about plants you knew the writers were probably gardeners. Still, I would not let the pair in my garden - trouble follows them wherever they go.

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  5. Phillip,

    I haven't been inspired by an movies but I love watching for gardens in movies and TV shows...

    Your blog looks fantastic...new haircut;-)

    Gail

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  6. I can't name a movie that particularly influenced my gardening, but I love to see wonderful gardens -- anywhere, anyway!

    Cameron

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  7. Interesting post; I enjoyed it very much, because we share some favorites.

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  8. Love the pansies in your header!! There is something in every garden that I see that inspires something in me.

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  9. Phillip, I commented on the GGW site about my favorites but I didn't mention Rosemary and Thyme. I watched all of those just for the gardens. (The actors were good too of course.)

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  10. Wow, you did a grand job of answering the question. I enjoyed reading about your favorites. I guess if a movie has a garden in it, I'll watch but I'm still fond of the old movies. Even though they are in black and white, I know how grand it is.

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  11. I loved 'Maurice'. It's such an underrated film and in my humble opinion the only one I can see Hugh 'stuttering idiot' Grant in. Thanks for such a lovely post.

    Greetings from London.

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  12. Hi Philip, I probably see even fewer movies that you. I couldn't name a single one except Secret Garden. I have seen all those remakes;) Thanks so much for the tip on the Brittish series. That is definitely one 'll look for.
    Marnie

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  13. Hi Phillip, I loved all your info, how about that Esther Williams pool in Dracula, I would never have guessed that a garden scene movie, but still liked it as I recall. Howard's End still thrills me and I will look for the Rosemary and Thyme series, I love mysteries too.
    Frances

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  14. Phillip, I agree with your sentiments about movie watching. I can't do depressing either. I want to be entertained, and that's all! No angst.

    I think you touched on all the gorgeous garden movies and then some. Wow, you have a great memory! I can't even remember the title of a book I read 3 days ago. Oh, most public libraries have the Rosemary & Thyme series too. Great suggestion.

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  15. Thanks for the heads up on Rosemary and Thyme.

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  16. If you liked the Italian countryside in Room w/ a View, you might like the Spanish countryside in Savage Grace (2007), starring Julianne Moore.

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  17. There should be more movies with gardens in them, for sure! I also like Rosemary & Thyme - was renting dvd's, then it came on our local PBS station. One I don't see on your list is the Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version of Much Ado About Nothing, set in a lovely Italian villa with wonderful fountain and hedges.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  18. Chuck, that is one that I want to see when it comes out on dvd. Of course it never played here...

    Annie, I've not seen that one. I'm not really a big Shakespeare fan but I might seek it out if it is pretty to look at.

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  19. Hello Phillip, from the 'frozen north" .. I wonder what it says about my garden and I, that I am a scifi fan or that my all time favorite TV series was "Dead Like Me" .. might be too scary to investigate .. but I liked your opinion on the influence of the movie Dracula, Frank L. version .. now he was eye candy ! LOL

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  20. Hi Phillip! I have to agree with you on all of these cinematic choices, and I own all three series of "Rosemary and Thyme" on DVD - great motivation for my 90 minutes on the elliptical every morning, but I'd run the other way if I saw these two coming to work on my garden, just the same ("Jessica Fletcher Syndrome", perhaps?)

    I also loved the gardens in "Triumph of Love" with Finola Hughes and F. Murray Abraham; at one point some young, attractive lovers (not the stars named above!) are romping through a field of Cyclamen hederifolium in full bloom - nobody better be romping through my small patch, in bloom or otherwise, but it was fun to watch on the big screen.

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  21. Hi,
    Room with a view was the film that ricky and i saw on our first date! after awatching a movie like that we had to get together!

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  22. Gardens in movies hmmmm...well I loved the maze in the shining and I seem to remember there were some interesting garden scenes in Last Year at Marienbad.

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