I started this blog really because I was inspired to grow and cook and take a leaf out of Tom and Barbara Good’s book (as can be seen by both the name of my blog and my online persona) so I thought it was about time for a Top Five that pays homage to all that. Here are my top five screen gardens, that is gardens found in movie and television shows.
1. The Good Life
I obviously could not start anywhere else, seeings as this classic (in my opinion) British TV comedy was where it all started. I loved their garden, it was muddy, slightly disorganised and very productive. They managed to squeeze in various livestock – pigs, chickens, goats and even a horse for a brief but glorious period for Barbara. The episode where they converted their front garden into viable food growing space amid all those manicured lawns and carefully pruned roses is what I always think of when I see or hear of people converting the front gardens. They then had to guard it from a pedestrian thief who came night after night to steal the leeks – and given how slow they grow I too would be guarding them with some sort of weapon, perhaps my garden fork!
2. Pride and Prejudice (BBC Mini series)
While obviously not directly about gardens a lot of the story unfolds while the characters walk in various gardens. Lizzy and her sisters stroll around their gardens at home, gathering beautiful flowers and collecting herbs for the kitchen all the while chatting and pondering life. Then there is the high drama between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, much of which plays out in the gardens and grounds of Mr Collins and who could forget the rolling green lawns of Pemberly with Mr Darcy emerging god-like from the pond to surprise Lizzy in the very best of ways.
3. Darling Buds of May
I’ve watched this series over and over again and always turn to it when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps, it makes me smile. The garden of the Larkin’s is a real rambling mess and includes a small farm, some wild flower meadows, ponds and a stream. This is another one that provides the on-screen family with the food that later appears on the dinner plants and food is central to their life. There’s a scene in one of the early episodes where the large Larkin family (including twins Zinnia and Petunia and older sister Primrose) along with the tax-man come son-in-law Charlie and ‘The Brigadier’ are enjoying an al fresco lunch on the grass under a beautiful big tree – that’s what I would love.
4. Notting Hill
Not one of my favourite movies but like a lot of people I am a sucker for a Rom Com every now and again, especially if it finishes in a beautiful, peaceful garden. Earlier in the film Will (Hugh Grant) describes these gorgeous private gardens hidden away in the heart of the city, and then tries to prove his masculinity by breaking into one such garden. Of course, as with any Rom Com, his attempts at smooth seduction goes slightly astray. But all is well in the end as he and Anna (predictably) live happily ever after around one of the gardens that brought them together in the first place.
5. Easy Virtue
A great film set in a typical English mansion with manicured lawns, beautiful wooded areas, long winding driveways and an amazing indoor conservatory. This final space could equally have been filled by Antonement (and even better movie, but the garden didn’t stand out quite so much for me) or any number of period English films (Sense and Sensibility perhaps). They all share the same qualities in terms of the gardens, but if you haven’t seen this one you must, just for the dog scene if nothing else! I also remember them playing tennis on their private lawn tennis court and I think a great garden really isn’t complete without a tennis court (or perhaps a croquet lawn), is it?
Frustratingly I had a fabulous French film in mind from about five or six years ago, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was called. Edward Scissorhands also came to mind, but I always found those gardens – and those houses – kind of creepy. So there you have it, certainly not an exhaustive list, but a few great movie or tv gardens that stand out for me.
For more top five, head over the Liz’s.