Members of the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society who went to the Opeongo Seniors Centre for a second consecutive Thursday were richly rewarded. Not only were the equipment failures of the previous week corrected, but the film they had hoped to see, The Gardener, turned out to be enchanting. The audience burst into spontaneous applause when the final credits began to roll.
The 88-minute documentary written and directed by Sébastien Chabot was filmed in the Charlevoix region near Quebec City where Frank Cabot had devoted much of his life to the creation of a magnificent 20-acre garden which he called Les Quatre Vents. On-site interviews with Cabot shortly before his death, family members, friends, garden experts and Adrienne Clarkson are interspersed with stunning footage of the garden itself and accompanied by an enchanting score by Luc St-Pierre.
Penelope Hobhouse, eminent British garden designer and Cabot’s friend, described his creativity and referred to him as “a genius, or nearly a genius.” She said he was,
a little mad as well. If he hadn’t had a lot of money, you might have said he was [mad].
Colin Cabot, who has taken over the garden since his father’s death, said his father intended the garden “to move people.” This became evident as he talked about a garden visit as being “basically an emotional and sensual experience” … with surprises.
Filmmaker Chabot uses the element of surprise himself as he gradually reveals the various “rooms” in the garden and demonstrates how some areas have greater impact on the viewer when approached from a particular direction. Cabot’s widow explains that her husband always built “theatre” into Les Quatre Vents.
The Gardener has won several awards, including the Prix du Public at the 2016 Quebec City Film Festival, and will soon be available on DVD. Some Horticultural Society members have added it to their public library wish lists. To get a sense of The Gardener, click the link below to watch a brief trailer (1:52min)
Featured photo courtesy Riding the Buses