Five Seasons Thrice

One way or another, I’ve managed to see ‘Five Seasons’ three times.  Once as an online ‘review’ copy, and twice at the cinema.

Firstly, I’ve just got to say how amazing it is to live in a day when it’s even possible that such a film could exist.  The Times They Are a’Changin’, and the change is, astonishingly, plant-driven.  In my several visits to The High Line in New York, I’ve been delighted and astonished to see hundreds of visitors genuinely engaged with viewing the planting, crouching down and composing photos that are not only about plants, but about combinations of plants!  One can only assume that it’s this recently discovered appetite that has also fuelled the movie, and allowed it to screen for weeks on end, even here in Melbourne.

Piet Oudolf in his gardens at Hummelo in the fall.

Then to the film itself.  I’m no film critic, and I’m not going to pretend to be one.  But I loved that opening time-lapse sequence of Piet Oudolf’s old nursery area, showing the flowering perennials, (which were tucked into a grass matrix) in their annual ebb and flow – rising, flowering, seeding, decaying.  The changes were all so subtle that you couldn’t at any one point detect the shift.  From that moment I was hooked, and was for the whole duration of the film leaning forward in my chair, trying to see and mentally record as much as I possibly could.

I admit that I had to continually remind myself that the film wasn’t made for the likes of me – a gardener/designer who wants to know how it’s all put together, and how it all works.  It left me (as the most life-giving experiences should) with more questions than answers.  But I fully understand that this film is about the aesthetics, not the mechanics, or the logistics of this kind of planting.

The gardens at Hummelo in the fall.

Having said that, I loved that sequence showing the cutting back of the area mentioned above.  First the scything, and then the mowing.  I loved watching it all being pulled back into order, ready for the seasonal re-launch.  The fabulously coarse and apparently rough cut-back process sat in delicious contrast to the soft, subtle, romantic effect of the planting’s floral and textural peak.

It would seem that the shooting spanned several growing seasons, but it left me wishing they could have stretched it one more summer so we could have seen Durslade Farm (designed, planted and opened in the film) in its second season, when the plants had bulked up and started to reveal PO’s full design intentions.  Looks like I’ll just have to visit the real thing instead

What did you think of Five Seasons?  Would love to hear!


If you’re interested in knowing more about planting, dividing and cutting back perennials, along with their other seasonal requirements, join our Perennials masterclass on July 21.  Details here.