Affirmation from Middle Earth

Doubled up on the couch with a crippling, hacking cough on Sunday, and for want of anything better to do, I put on the DVD of Fellowship of the Ring.  There’s old Bilbo beginning his book of adventure, and in a preface, ‘Concerning hobbits’, mentions their love of growing things.

As a gardener, the voice-over can’t help but make you feel warm and fuzzy, even if the visuals of Sean Astin’s stupid face, while gazing at a pretty pathetic bit of obvious nursery-stock, doesn’t do the words justice.  You can almost hear the director crying out ‘look lovingly at it – I said lovingly!‘.

It sent me running to my daggy and dog-eared copy of LOTR to see if I could find the very words Bilbo spoke.  They’re not there.  The closest thing in ‘Concerning Hobbits’ tells that ‘they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth’.

But there’s some other really lovely stuff in LOTR, of such insight into the simple beauty and dignity of growing things.

How about this, revealing the difference between the values of the dwarves and the elves.  Gimli and Legolas are entering Minas Tirith.  Gimli (the dwarf) starts

“‘There is some good stone-work here,’ he said as he looked at the walls; ’but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better contrived.  When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall offer him the service of stonewrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.’

‘They need more gardens’ said Legolas. ‘The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad.  If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die.’”

or this, from Faramir, speaking to Frodo

“’..You are a new people and a new world to me.  Are all your kin of like sort?  Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardeners be held in high honour.”

“Not all is well there,’ said Frodo ‘but certainly gardeners are honoured’”


Me, trying to smell lily of the valley in Bibury, UK, without getting wet knees. It just isn’t possible to pass lily of the valley without a sniff


  1. Now I’m starting to sound like one of those weird ‘talkback pests;’ we get at the ABC! I was lucky enough to visit the set of Hobbiton in New Zealand as they were firing up the hobbit houses for filming of “The Hobbit” they had scores of landscapers on set as they were planting up all the English cottage garden plants and veggies into the gardens. Some of the hardier stock was still hanging around from last time (ivy and foxgloves) I suspect there will be a little more focus on the gardening in this next film. (Well at the start and probaby the end anyways!) Love the Lilly of the Valley shot… you could be in some weird garden boot camp group?!

    1. How fabulous. I’d loved to have seen that set. They did an incredible job of the landscaping of Hobbiton – wonderfully weedy vegie patches, overgrown roadside verges, and dreamy wildflower meadows – as the landscapers did for the opening of the Olympics, with the wildflowers around the tree in the stadium. Talk about ridiculous levels of difficulty…
      My complaint is what they had Sam troweling away at at that moment when the voice-over mentions the love of growing things – a clearly nursery-grown, stiff, highly hybridised annual (looks like a dwarf nicotiana) – not at all the sort of thing you’d imagine in an unsophisticated Hobbiton cottage garden. I know that sounds pedantic, but that trilogy oozes with precisely that sort of pendantry and attention to detail, so it really stands out when they get it wrong (like the leaves around the lembas bread, or the foliage on treebeard – honestly – don’t get me started).

  2. Slightly off topic but I’ve watched the movie 3 times in the last 4 weeks as prep for singing it in a fortnight. MSO and choir performing the soundtrack live as Hamer Hall becomes a massive cinema. Woo hoo!! Can’t wait!

    1. Honestly, I can’t imagine anything more spine-tingling to perform. What is it about movie music, these days, that can run so deep?
      Wish I could be there….

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