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Documentary 'The Gardener' offers a horticultural escape

Documentary 'The Gardener' offers a horticultural escape
Frank Cabot in the documentary "The Gardener." (Gravitas Ventures)

A Facebook friend recently posted the intriguing question, "What movie do you wish you could live inside?" I now have my answer: "The Gardener," Sébastien Chabot's captivating documentary about one of the world's most beautiful and ambitious private gardens, the 20-acre Les Quatre-Vents in rural Quebec.

Chabot's 2009 interview with its then-84-year-old creator, Frank Cabot (the much-honored preservationist and philanthropist died in 2011), anchors this loving look at the visual, tactile, emotional and spiritual joys of gardening — in this case, of the "grand scale" variety.

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The patrician Cabot eloquently discusses the history, development and design of Les Quatre-Vents, located on his family's longtime estate beside the St. Lawrence River. His wife, Anne, son Colin, famed horticulturist Penelope Hobhouse, gardening journalist Tim Richardson and others add valuable insight.

The garden's dazzling plantings, pathways, vistas and structures (a Chinese moon bridge, a Japanese teahouse, a Swedish-style pigeonnier and more), are gorgeously shot by Chabot and Geneviève Ringuet, with Luc St. Pierre's tender score (mixed with classical cuts) providing fine support.

Missing, however, are some practical specifics, including how much of the garden, which opened for limited public touring in 1987, Cabot physically planted and maintained himself over his more than 40-year tenure — and at what cost?

Otherwise, this is a soothing and transporting journey sure to inspire gardeners of all stripes to create their own slice of heaven.

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‘The Gardener’

In English and French with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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