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Movie Gardens

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Universal Studios

Amy Stewart over at Garden Rant posted about the reality of Meryl’s Streep’s garden in the new movie, It’s Complicated. As the LA Times article said, this garden was not planted or tended in situ. It is a movie set. The plants for this ‘potager’ were grown in a greenhouse and laid out when it was time for the scene to be shot. Tomatoes were wired to the plants.

Some people have complained that this fantasy of a garden is laid out to seduce would be gardeners, and even experienced gardeners to such a degree that they will be disappointed and discouraged at not being able to create such a thing themselves. For myself, I cannot believe there are too many people who look at any house or garden in a movie who do not understand this is fantasy. It is a set created to establish character, and to entertain.

However, for those who are inspired by sets Amy passed along Remodelista’s posting on stealing the look with similar items that are available to us all. For a price.

Even before this movie came out, with its seductive garden, I’ve been thinking about making up a list of movies with beautiful or interesting gardens. I’ve come up with the recent documentary The Garden about a community garden in LA which is moving and frustrating and wonderful; The Secret Garden which heals; The Garden of the Finzi-Continis which I barely remember; Enchanted April with its glorious landscapes;  and Under the Tuscan Sun that has a fantasy house and garden. Surely there are other movies with notable, unique gardens or landscapes. What would you add?

10 comments to Movie Gardens

  • I will definitely give this some thought and return with other ideas as time goes by, but the first thing I think of is “Edward Scissorhands,” that sweet tale of the boy with garden shears for hands who shapes amazing shrubbery in the blink of an eye. Great topic, Pat!

  • Peter

    I’m shocked! But then I also supposed every gardener imagined their garden was destined to someday be a movie set. I’ve always suspected that André Le Nôtre toiled at Versailles, speculating that someday his work would serve as a backdrop for countless movies. And I have read Capability Brown’s diaries where he confessed “…someday Merchant and Ivory are going to thank me…” Of course some gardens fail to inspire movies that take full advantage of their luxurious foliage. L’Année dernière à Marienbad, filmed in black and white, is never going to inspire anyone to take up the trowel. Avatar, on the other hand…

  • Hi Pat, You have picked my favorites and now I would add Avatar… though maybe that really does not fit here. Enchanted April is one of my all time favorite movies, and I did drool over some of the scenes in ‘A Good Year.’

  • Jen

    Remember the one in “Rosemary’s Baby”? It was an indoor herb garden full of evil stuff. I doubt anyone would ever want to grow one like it, but it certainly was interesting looking….

  • I guess I have to LOOK more at the movies I watch because I haven’t come up with anything else yet–although I’m pretty sure just about every Merchant Ivory picture has gardens or at least shruberry–all those English (and occasionally American or Indian) characters disporting themselves in the hedgerows………

  • Pat

    Tinky – I’m going to have to look through this particular lens more myself. But you are right about Merchant Ivory movies and Edward Scissorhands is a great addition to the list.
    Jen – I never saw Rosemary’s Baby. I read the book and it was too scary to see on the silver screen. I do own another book about ‘witches’ gardens.
    carol – I think Avatar must belong on this list. I am eager to see it. I agree Enchanted April is one of my all-time favorites.
    Peter – As we prepare some Youtube tours of my garden I am looking at it from cinematic eyes. Terrifying, actually.

  • I love the gardens in The Secret Garden and Enchanted April the best. Have you seen Greenfingers? That has some beautiful gardens too.

  • It’s ironic that I should happen to read your post just this morning. Last night I watched “Grey Gardens,” which another blogger had recommended. I was disappointed they didn’t show many good views of the garden at his height, but most of the movie shows the opposite effect–what happens when a garden is neglected over many years. That’s pretty sad.

    “The Secret Garden” has to be one of my favorites–I’ve always wanted to have one of my own.

  • I also blogged about the garden in It’s Complicated at the beginning of the year. For the past decade I had been growing a kitchen garden with aspirations of artsy perfection and spotted a fake when I saw it, but that didn’t stop me from drooling all over it…
    Funny how I almost hesitated about writing that post, but it turned out to be one of my most popular. Maybe I should be reviewing more movie gardens?

  • Pat

    Rhonda – I think this movie and the reaction to the garden have opened up a whole new Category for us bloggers.

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