Great Movies: Those That Have Inspired Your Garden Making

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

When I read an article in The International Herald Tribune with the title ‘I’m trying to see these movies. If you want to talk, go home’, it reminded me that it is usually this time of year when an avid movie buddy and I begin our annual whirlwind of seeing as many movies as possible prior to the Academy Awards. And as tradition goes, a few days before The Academy Awards, my friend sends out ballots where all of us movie lovers make our picks for the ‘best of the best’ in several categories.  

As a movie lover, I’m aware of the impact that certain movies have had on my unconscious over the years. And off the top of my head, there are at least a few that have been inspirational and influential in my garden making. So, on that note, rather than naming our favorite picks for the Academy Awards of 2009, I thought it would be fun to see which movies have inspired us garden bloggers in our garden dreaming, designing and planting.

My 3 favorites are as follows:

Jean de Florette. Without going into the plot (which is outstanding), this movie was my first taste of the Luberon, a region in Provence, France. It was because of Jean de Florette that I began visiting Provence more than a few times over several years in order to soak up its landscape, plants, the color of the earth, the skies, the people, the lifestyle and architecture.

Enchanted April. Four women from London rent a villa on a remote island in Italy. Want to taste a morsel of an  intoxicating garden and countryside surrounding this Mediterranean villa? This is a movie that will make you want to jump on a plane to Italy as soon as possible so that you too can feel a sense of romance when ensconced in such magical beauty.

Howard’s End. What can one say about a movie, with a great plot, but that also exposes us to an English cottage, called Howard’s End, which is covered with roses? The scenes that take place at this cottage took my breath away and made me think that gardening at a place like Howard’s End would be a dream.

Now it’s your turn. Chime in and tell us which of the movies you’ve seen over the years have inspired your garden making?

**Please note that above photos were copied from, and

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
22 comments… add one

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Frances January 6, 2009, 5:27 pm

Hi Fran, this is a good one. Howard’s End, The Secret Garden and the masterpiece Fantasia, with the scenes of mythology complete with flying horses of pastel colors. I can recite every line from Howard’s End and never tire of watching it, especially those cottage garden scenes. The scene in The Secret Garden when they open the hidden gate in the wall and it is awash in roses takes my breath away. Ahhh, sweet memories!

Am so glad to discover that you’re a Howard’s End fan. I totally forgot about The Secret Garden. It is breathtaking when the gate is opened. And Fantasia, that’s a natural as well. Thanks for these great selections. Fran

Anna/Flowergardengirl January 6, 2009, 5:44 pm

What a fun post! Now I want to watch Howard’s End just for the gardens.

Heart broken, I left a bed full of Agapanthus at my former home. I saw it in the movie Father of the version. I love the big two story white home in the movie and their abundant blooming Agapanthus along their property line.

But it is not that movie which inspired me—
I love all those cottage style homes of the movies that came out in the 1940’s with the lace curtains and rose gardens. Most of those movies were black and white but not in my mind. So my favorite all time is…They Died With Their Boots On with Errol Flynn He meets Elizabeth in that movie and they walk all over West Point Military Academy showing all the beautiful gardens.

I think it’s the atmosphere of the old movies that I try to recreate in my garden. They made their garden a destination.

although I don’t know the movie, They Died With Their Boots On, I agree that the black and white flicks can evoke a certain emotion that colored movies can’t. I distinctly remember the beautiful home and front garden in The Father of the Bride. Although in color, somehow that home felt like it could have been there in the 50s and 60s. Thanks for your thoughts. Fran

ESP January 7, 2009, 2:14 am

After watching the movie by M. Night Shyamalan, I immediately stopped gardening.

Here is the trailer:

I was too afraid of “breezes” to go back out there!! 🙂


After watching that clip, I can understand why. And although I loved The Sixth Sense, there’ no way I’m watching this one. And thanks for humour (am assuming your comment was tongue in cheek!) Fran

LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD January 7, 2009, 11:28 am

GREEN CARD: with an incredible 19th C conservatory in the middle of the apartment; also a walled patio and Gerard Depardieu to boot.

BED OF ROSES: kind of a silly movie but a rooftop garden to die for.

EVER AFTER: a take on the Cinderella story done in France with medieval castles and knot gardens. And a working veggie garden with wattle fences.

PRIDE & PREJUDICE: the Keira Knightly version. There is a scene where Lizzie and her aunt and uncle stop on their travels and sit and talk around the base of the most wonderful tree I’ve ever seen.

MR. BASEBALL: a crazy old Tom Selleck movie. He’s a baseball player in Japan and visits his girlfriend’s grandparents who have a traditional Japanese home and garden. I just stop the movie there and look at every little detail I can.

Did you know the cottage in Howard’s End was big enough that the family continued to live in another part of it while the movie was filmed?

You’ve given us quite a list. No, I didn’t know that piece of trivia about Howard’s End. Thanks for sharing. Pride and Prejudice….yes… also the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version (I think). Green Card I will check out because I love Gerard Depardieu. Eye opening list for sure! Fran

Jeff January 7, 2009, 12:24 pm

My “Howard’s End” takeaway was not so much the roses as the enormous clump of Euphorbia characias var. wulfenii that abuts the front entrance – I’ve tried to grow it, with limited success (and that mainly in a pot due to drainage issues) ever since.

I remember that clump of Euphorbia wulfenii. I understand why it so grabbed your attention. After seeing several gardens with Euphorbia in other USDA Zones, I decided that I absolutely was going to grow it in my Zone 6 garden. They did incredibly well and I gave them no special attention soil wise. There are a few good nurseries in Cailfornia where I ordered them (along with tender salvias), and I say keep on growing them in containers if they give you pleasure!! Thanks for your comments. Fran

Jean January 7, 2009, 1:45 pm

All those movies you mentioned are certainly tops when it came to exposing me to certain locales that I wanted to visit. But I think the one that definitely made me swear to go to Italy was “Cinema Paridiso”. I walked out of the theater with a vow, and thankfully I was able to fulfill it with a trip to Italy a few years later. Oh, and let’s not forget “Out of Africa”. Not exactly a garden, but what natural beauty!

Yes,yes,yes on both counts. Cinema Paradiso is one of my all time favorite movies
but I don’t remember the landscape in it. Will have to go back and see it again…it has been several, several years. And ‘Out of Africa’, well, of course you’re right on with the natural beauty…which to me translates into the best form of gardening. And is there any scene that can outdo the one when Redford and Streep are flying in his plane and you see them holding hands, just the hands….it never fails to make me cry. Thanks for 2 classics! Fran

Craig @ Ellis Hollow January 7, 2009, 7:13 pm

My favorite: Saving Grace, starring a young Craig Ferguson. (I know!) My review and trailer here:

Thanks so much for referring us to your link. I totally forgot about Saving Grace and that Craig Ferguson (who I love) starred in it. A little jewel of a movie…Fran

Helen @ Gardening With Confidence January 7, 2009, 8:39 pm

Beautiful photo! Fun post.
Thanks Helen.

Lois J. de Vries January 8, 2009, 8:58 am

The opening scene of Howard’s End, where the back of Vanessa Redgrave’s dress trails through the garden at eventide made such an emotional impression on my husband and I that it was literally life-changing. We loved this garden so much that we built a Howard’s End-style garden house (under 100 aquare feet). We love this movie and watch it over and over.

Another movie that has lovely views of the Italian countryside and a villa garden is My House in Umbria (starring Maggie Smith).

What a story you have! I think we should start a Howard’s End fan club. So far, your story tops the list. I will need to go back and watch Howard’s End again, although I just saw it perhaps only 3 or 4 months ago (for the 3rd or 4th time). I don’t remember the scene with the back of Vanessa Redgrave’s dress trailing in the back. Agree with you about the villa garden in My House In Umbria. And although I love Maggie Smith, the movie itself can’t hold a candle to Howard’s End. Another great movie with some beautiful (and Italian) English gardens is Room With A View….not as evocative as Howard’s End but still with some magnificent scenes. How about the kissing scene in the meadow in Italy? Would love to see a photo of your Howard’s End-style garden house. Fran

Layanee January 9, 2009, 8:42 am

I think Russell Crowe in ‘A Good Year’ has some of the most beautiful garden scenes I have seen in a movie. I watch it for the music and the gardens.

It’s funny that you mentioned ‘A Good Year’. Yesterday when I was having lunch with my daughter and her boyfriend, he was talking about how much he loves Provence. I asked him if he had seen ‘A Good Year” Totally concur that it is a move that ‘inspires’. Was ready to move to France and to find a winery that I could buy after seeing that movie! (if only I could afford it!). Fran

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" January 10, 2009, 3:19 pm

I love this post!
My husband and I have a running joke about movies when it comes to deciding which one to watch.
His line to me is, “You’ll hate the movie, but love the scenery,” to which I reply, “Ok, lets go!”
I am not the person to ask about a movie review, I usually don’t pay much attention unless the story is compelling- I’m watching the background scenery, the gardens, the hardscape design, the architecture, I try to I.D. trees!

Here are a few that come to mind that I enjoyed for scenery:

“1900” with Robert DeNiro
“What Dreams May Come”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” -love the old fashion gardens.


Hey Shirley-
Good to hear from you. I understand your natural tendency to observe the landscape, etc, rather than the plot but it sounds like you have a strongly attuned ear in this arena. Only know the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. Will have to check out the other 2. thanks for chiming in with your thoughts! Fran

P.S. Also wonder about some David Lynch films or something like L.A. Confidential… you remember the scenery in any of them??

commonweeder January 10, 2009, 3:39 pm

I’ve been able to make up a whole list of Netflix must sees. I don’t have anything to add really. Enchanted April is something I watch every winter. It is the bluebell wood in Howard’s End that I found memborable.

It looks like Howard’s End is the out right winner and in the reponses on this post. I think you and I are the only ones who are fans of Enchanted April. Winter is a good time to watch it! Fran

Karen January 11, 2009, 8:08 pm

I love watching Rosemary and Thyme for all the garden references and beautiful English scenary.

Thanks for mentioning a movie that I have never heard of….when I have a few moments today, I’ll check out the clip on YouTube. Fran

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" January 13, 2009, 2:56 am

Remember the scenery in a David Lynch film or L.A. Confidential? Yes, but let’s just say the “scenery” I remember from the above films are more in the way of “human landscapes” if you get my drift!

I haven’t seen any of them in years…. but somehow have memories of Mulholland Drive and old L.A. and thought there might have been some landscapes involved. Obviously, as you said, it was of a different type of landscape. Thanks for that input. Helps to keep the record straight. Fran

Phillip January 13, 2009, 12:59 pm

A fun post. I’ve added my two cents at

Thanks for your thoughts and all of your comments. Will need to check out Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Rosemary and Thyme. I love all of the Merchant-Ivory films. As a matter of fact, years ago I went to visit the town and church where parts of Room With A View took place. It’s near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, England. When I came upon the church where Mr. Beebs was the pastor, I was in heaven!! Fran

Jeannie January 20, 2009, 7:29 pm

I’ve been ruminating on this since I first read it, and a minute ago I thought of a good one. Little Shop of Horrors…”feed me Seymore” Enjoy the song!

How well I remember this…and ‘Feed Me Seymour’ is a favorite of mine. That was one of Rick Moranis’ defining roles. Thanks for your input!! Fran

Free April 21, 2009, 6:43 am

The Movie Green Card has made me dream of a winter garden ever since… *sigh*

Never saw that movie. Looked it up on IMDB though and have added to my list of ‘Must See’ movies. Thanks. Fran

Nell March 2, 2010, 3:51 pm

My favorite garden in movie is Under the Tuscan Sun, with its walled garden for Poland and the trellised walkaway .

Dear Nell,

One of my favorites also. I have dreams about having a home and gardening in Tuscany! Fran

Jason Randolph August 28, 2015, 9:50 pm

The Karate kid 1,2&3
The Secret Garden
Little Shop of horrors
These are three movies that have inspired me as a worldly gardener & hobbiest of plants . Some of my favorite plants that I grow are succulents, aquatic & fruit trees .

Fran Sorin August 30, 2015, 10:23 pm

Jason- That’s an old post. Thanks for combing through the files and finding it. I can attest to the power of The Secret Garden and Little Shop of Horrors but have never seen the Karate Kid movies. You’ve given me a reason to watch them. Thanks for sharing. Fran

Diana April 16, 2016, 2:31 am

My favourite movie ever is conversation avec mon jardinier, the plot is a bitter sweet story about an unusual friendship, but also about a gardner expert and his passion for gardening vegetables.Definitely a beautiful movie and impressive acting from the main actors!

Fran Sorin April 17, 2016, 4:06 am

I’ve never seen that movie. Will a add to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing. Fran

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