Gardens on the Big Screen

Rockwork Grove, a garden in one of the most famous Palaces in the world, Versailles, is taking centre stage in Alan Rickman’s upcoming film A Little Chaos. Taking inspiration from the enchanting gardens in the film we look back at the gardens which have made an impression on screen.

A Little Chaos


Kate Winslet stars as landscape architect Madame Sabine De Barra who is tasked with creating the grand garden at Versailles for King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman). Her ideas for the garden differ from those of famous architect Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts), however as she works on her creation it appears that the flowers aren’t the only thing that blossom. Production Designer James Merifield made the gardens reflective of either characters’ personality: “Le Notre is very ordered and architectural, so his garden had to be severe and almost monolithic…Sabine is an artist. She has a more organic and creative soul…The design is free-form rather than architectural; she has made it more about the plants and the textures.”

It’s Complicated

Gardens on the Big Screen it's complicated

The film’s production designer Jon Hutman enlisted the help of greensman Dan Ondrejko (Jurassic Park, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) to create the lush, colourful vegetable garden which Meryl Streep’s character, Jane, attends to. It was pitched to be a real cook’s garden; however, all of the vegetables were grown in a greenhouse two months prior to production, it is impossible cultivate every item in this garden at the same time of year.

The Secret Garden

Gardens on the Big Screen The Secret Garden

For Oscar winning Production Designer Stuart Craig, whose other credits include the Harry Potter series, Notting Hill and Ghandi, the biggest challenge was the film’s garden which was built within an existing garden on the edge of Pinewood Studios.

The garden cost £120,000 to create and was filled with perennials, wild geraniums, foxgloves, ivy, roses and lackspur.

Pride and Prejudice

wiltshire-stourhead-lake Gardens on the Big Screen pride and prejudice

© VisitWiltshire/Sebastian Kraus

The garden at Stourhead provided a beautiful setting for a pivotal role in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. With the backdrop of pouring rain, Mr Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth in the Temple of Apollo with views of the Palladian Bridge. The famous landscape garden is set around a lake and is filled with rare and exotic trees.


Gardens on the big screen atonement:

Stokesay Court in Shropshire served as the Tallis’ estate in Joe Wright’s Bafta winning Atonement. One of the central moments in the film, which dictates the course of the story, takes place in the garden and more specifically at the fountain. Art Designer, Sarah Greenwood, repaired the gardens existing fountain before adding the storied central sculpture.


Just Like Heaven

Gardens on the big screen just like heaven

At the end of the 2005 romcom Just Like Heaven Reese Witherspoon’s character Elizabeth is surprised with a beautiful roof garden above her San Francisco apartment with great views overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The decked area is surrounded by gravel and covered in potted plants, framed by seating areas and pergolas covered in flowers, providing a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city.


Far From Heaven

Gardens on the big screen far from heaven

The prim and proper 1950s garden in Far From Heaven provides a background story for one of the film’s main character’s – Raymond. Director Todd Haynes uses colour palettes carefully and thoughtfully throughout the film and the garden clearly reflect this. The potted flowers are all autumnal colours which are surrounded by the orangey hues on the trees, this is brought together with a well-manicured lawn. The garden is neat and just so, a style aesthetic reflective of the period.


The Great Gatsby

Gardens on the big screen the great gatsby movie set design gatsby-mansion-exterior

Photo via Architectural Digest

Baz Luhrma’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby perfectly married together the 1920s and the modern day, a visual and style theme which was carried out throughout all aspects of film from the costume, set design and garden. Gatsby’s castle was created with the idea of an adult’s version of Disneyland in mind, this playful fantastical idea can be seen is the grounds, a large pool is not only the focal point of the garden, it is also a stage for the party, whist an over the top fountain takes over the approach to the house.

A Little Chaos is out in UK cinemas from 17th April 2015.

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