A Year in an English Garden: Flicker & Pulse


A Year in an English Garden: Flicker & Pulse

A portrayal of time passing in a walled garden. Using real-time and time-lapse footage, it explores the relationship between the seasons and the plants, and people who work there.


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Transcript


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BIRDSONG

0:02:070:02:10

So, the Earth is spinning around on its axis,

0:02:300:02:34

and that causes the day-night cycle,

0:02:340:02:37

as the sun appears to rise above the horizon and set below the horizon.

0:02:370:02:42

Meanwhile, the Earth is spinning around the sun.

0:02:420:02:46

That takes it one year.

0:02:460:02:48

So that's our annual cycle.

0:02:480:02:49

And when the Earth's axis is pointing towards the sun,

0:02:500:02:54

that's when we have the longest days,

0:02:540:02:57

and when the Earth's axis is pointing away from the sun,

0:02:570:03:00

you have the shortest days,

0:03:000:03:02

so the orientation of the Earth's axis

0:03:020:03:05

is what alters the length of time at which the sun is above the horizon.

0:03:050:03:09

The winter jobs are part of that annual cycle,

0:03:200:03:23

and they are ritualistic.

0:03:230:03:25

They are important for putting the garden to bed

0:03:250:03:30

and preparing for the next season,

0:03:300:03:33

so although we have time to stand back a little bit more in the winter

0:03:330:03:37

and appreciate the garden in its winter glory,

0:03:370:03:41

and with ideas that we have for the next season,

0:03:410:03:44

the actual work that we do is vitally important

0:03:440:03:46

and it is part, as I say, of a cycle.

0:03:460:03:49

The garden is never lifeless.

0:03:530:03:55

In the winter seasons,

0:03:550:03:57

there's just different things going on, and it's not so conspicuous,

0:03:570:04:02

but there's always a certain amount of growth. and...

0:04:020:04:06

things are happening in the soil,

0:04:060:04:09

and there's a different range of insects and birds.

0:04:090:04:12

Well, there's a rhythm to the garden,

0:06:190:06:21

and the winter jobs, like pruning,

0:06:210:06:24

have to be done every year at a certain time,

0:06:240:06:28

so it sort of feels like part of the calendar doing them.

0:06:280:06:31

It's all about managing the light, and letting light in

0:06:320:06:35

to allow the fruit to ripen.

0:06:350:06:37

When I'm rotovating the soil, you really get into it.

0:10:290:10:33

I mean, I don't know. When I'm doing it, I'm kind of in another zone.

0:10:330:10:36

And the soil's got to be...

0:10:360:10:37

It's a really weird word, but in my way, it has to be lush.

0:10:370:10:41

It has to look like chocolate.

0:10:410:10:43

I like the soil to look like you'd get hold of it and you'd think,

0:10:430:10:46

"Yeah, that looks really good."

0:10:460:10:47

I can imagine it wouldn't have been perhaps terribly different

0:10:500:10:52

to the processes today, and particularly within the garden,

0:10:520:10:55

because what you would have to do is aerate the soil initially,

0:10:550:10:58

churn it up, plant your seeds, and so on.

0:10:580:11:01

And we can see that they probably would have done this

0:11:010:11:03

through very simple tools like antler picks,

0:11:030:11:06

perhaps starting to use metal around 6-8,000 years ago

0:11:060:11:12

as part of that process of managing the landscape around them,

0:11:120:11:16

and we can see the descendants of those tools today

0:11:160:11:19

in things like hoes, mattocks, shovels and spades.

0:11:190:11:25

INDISTINCT CHATTER

0:12:030:12:06

A straight line, basically,

0:16:070:16:09

so if you just stick that end...

0:16:090:16:12

Yeah, there. Perfect.

0:16:120:16:13

It feels wonderful, because you are starting the whole process

0:16:150:16:19

of filling up all the beds, which at this time now,

0:16:190:16:23

they're brown, completely bare,

0:16:230:16:25

and so the garlic is probably our first crop we plant out.

0:16:250:16:29

And it's the start of...

0:16:290:16:30

The very, very start of the whole season,

0:16:300:16:33

so it's a very exciting time.

0:16:330:16:34

I mean... Planting out...

0:16:360:16:38

When you're sowing direct, as we would say, you know,

0:16:380:16:42

you're direct sowing, so...

0:16:420:16:43

It is a big thing in a way, because you know that the season is off,

0:16:430:16:47

because the soil has to be at the right temperature for us to do so,

0:16:470:16:51

and you don't know that, really, unless you do it,

0:16:510:16:54

but you kind of go by your own instincts to know,

0:16:540:16:57

but once you've done that and the first seedlings appear, yeah,

0:16:570:17:01

here we go again, you know?

0:17:010:17:03

It's all lush and all growth, and...

0:17:030:17:05

So the first direct sowing is quite an important sowing,

0:17:050:17:08

because it kind of tells you that it's...

0:17:080:17:12

you know, the soil is ready and the temperature is right.

0:17:120:17:15

BIRDS SING AND BEES BUZZ

0:20:310:20:34

So a crucial ingredient for plants to grow is the light from the sun.

0:20:430:20:48

The photons coming from the sun are what allow photosynthesis to occur,

0:20:480:20:53

which is how the plants get their energy.

0:20:530:20:56

And those photons have been produced in the centre of the sun

0:20:560:20:59

through a process called nuclear fusion.

0:20:590:21:02

It takes eight minutes for the light to travel

0:21:020:21:05

from the surface of the sun to the Earth,

0:21:050:21:07

but the photons that are leaving the sun were actually produced

0:21:070:21:12

a million years ago in nuclear fusion in the centre of the sun,

0:21:120:21:15

and it's taken a million years for that photon to travel,

0:21:150:21:19

bouncing around through the gas particles within the sun,

0:21:190:21:22

to make its journey from the centre to the surface of the sun

0:21:220:21:26

before it begins its relatively rapid journey to the Earth.

0:21:260:21:29

BEE BUZZES

0:21:430:21:45

The bees buzzing in the blossom is amazing.

0:21:560:21:59

You can just stand underneath it and hear them just being so busy.

0:21:590:22:03

They don't care, really, if you're there or not.

0:22:030:22:06

I mean, they never sting us. We try not to walk into them.

0:22:060:22:08

But it's a wonderful sound, cos you know they're doing such good work,

0:22:080:22:12

and they're taking pollen back to the hive to feed the queen,

0:22:120:22:16

to keep the bees producing and making honey,

0:22:160:22:20

so that's the best sound in the garden, is the bees buzzing.

0:22:200:22:23

BEES BUZZ

0:22:260:22:30

BIRDSONG

0:24:170:24:19

I think all gardeners are aware of the growth around them,

0:24:510:24:56

not necessarily on a day-to-day basis, but...

0:24:560:25:01

it never ceases to surprise myself or the gardeners I know

0:25:010:25:05

how quickly things are growing,

0:25:050:25:08

and how quickly things come into flower...

0:25:080:25:11

..and my experience, where perhaps I'm not in one particular garden

0:25:130:25:17

every day, certainly on a weekly basis,

0:25:170:25:20

you can see tremendous change.

0:25:200:25:23

That, of course, is not always in the late autumn and winter months,

0:25:230:25:28

although you do see change,

0:25:280:25:30

but in the spring, when everything takes off,

0:25:300:25:33

and everything is rushing away and growing particularly if we've had

0:25:330:25:36

the right sort of weather,

0:25:360:25:38

then you can see dramatic change, and that's...

0:25:380:25:42

That's life-affirming.

0:25:420:25:43

It's really, really thrilling.

0:25:430:25:45

All gardeners that I know get a thrill

0:25:590:26:02

from pricking out and planting out the first seedlings

0:26:020:26:07

and the first small plants that they have,

0:26:070:26:11

particularly if they've nurtured themselves in a greenhouse,

0:26:110:26:15

and this is the beginning of the cycle in the garden -

0:26:150:26:19

it's the beginning of the year in the garden,

0:26:190:26:23

and is a particularly thrilling point, I think.

0:26:230:26:27

You notice everything, and sometimes you're absolutely amazed

0:26:320:26:36

how quickly things germinate and come up.

0:26:360:26:39

Radish, rocket, lettuce, green leaves, you can sow -

0:26:390:26:42

in three weeks' time, you've got a full lettuce,

0:26:420:26:46

or, you know, a full row of rocket.

0:26:460:26:48

They can germinate so quickly.

0:26:480:26:50

Every morning you go out, you notice something has happened every day.

0:26:500:26:54

Digging is one of those jobs that you feel quite satisfied afterwards,

0:27:060:27:10

because you can see what you've done,

0:27:100:27:13

so turning compost bins or digging out the base for a shed

0:27:130:27:17

or a log shed or something like that,

0:27:170:27:19

is difficult at the time,

0:27:190:27:20

and it sort of depends on what time of year -

0:27:200:27:22

you don't really want to be digging into the ground

0:27:220:27:24

in the middle of summer,

0:27:240:27:26

so it's more of a winter job, but then turning compost bins

0:27:260:27:29

and stuff like that, I don't know,

0:27:290:27:31

you sort of get to look at how things have changed

0:27:310:27:34

while they've been there.

0:27:340:27:36

So digging... Digging is all right.

0:27:360:27:37

I don't mind digging, but it's tiring when it's hot,

0:27:370:27:40

so I much prefer doing it in the winter.

0:27:400:27:42

Oh, yeah, I mean...

0:27:540:27:55

You know when you're digging, you've started digging,

0:27:550:27:58

you've started on the plot, you're going to dig, you're thinking

0:27:580:28:02

as you go along, "Now I'm going to perhaps have carrots in here,"

0:28:020:28:06

or that this will be for potatoes,

0:28:060:28:08

or I'll get it ready for the green stuff, the sprouts in the winter,

0:28:080:28:13

cabbage in the winter.

0:28:130:28:15

So you're always...

0:28:150:28:17

..always ahead to look at what you're doing

0:28:180:28:21

when you're digging the garden,

0:28:210:28:23

and what's going to happen to it after you've dug it.

0:28:230:28:25

I mean, after... Digging it is digging it,

0:28:250:28:28

but then you've got to rake it, hoe it, get it level,

0:28:280:28:33

draw your drills, I mean, just digging is only the start of it.

0:28:330:28:37

So, the sun was formed about 4.6 billion years ago,

0:34:150:34:19

and the Earth was formed relatively shortly after that.

0:34:190:34:24

Ever since the Earth was formed, it has been moving around the sun,

0:34:240:34:28

so the yearly cycle of orbiting around the sun

0:34:280:34:31

has been going on for 4.6 billion years.

0:34:310:34:35

So, we go from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle

0:34:550:34:57

that we would have been part of as a human species

0:34:570:35:00

for perhaps as much as 200,000 years when we start to first evolve.

0:35:000:35:04

We're hunter-gatherers, we know the seasons,

0:35:040:35:07

we know the plants that grow in the seasons,

0:35:070:35:09

we engage with the animals that move with the seasons,

0:35:090:35:12

and we're very...not controlled,

0:35:120:35:14

but we are very much under the influence of that cycle.

0:35:140:35:18

Then about 10,000 years ago,

0:35:180:35:20

with the new knowledge of agriculture and horticulture,

0:35:200:35:23

we can start to not be so dependent on that cycle,

0:35:230:35:25

and we start to change our psyche from moving with the seasons

0:35:250:35:29

to staying in one place and growing through the seasons.

0:35:290:35:34

And I think that's a very powerful cognitive shift

0:35:340:35:38

in how we engage with the land around us.

0:35:380:35:41

There is no time to relax.

0:36:230:36:24

HE CHUCKLES

0:36:240:36:26

I think the only time to relax in the garden

0:36:260:36:28

is about two weeks in October. I mean... Summertime is...

0:36:280:36:32

It's all busy. The garden is busy continuously.

0:36:320:36:35

You can sit down and have a look at it

0:36:350:36:37

and enjoy your fruits of your labour,

0:36:370:36:40

I guess, but to relax, unfortunately, no!

0:36:400:36:45

HE LAUGHS

0:36:450:36:46

Obviously in the summer, you can sit outside a lot more,

0:36:490:36:51

and you can enjoy your breaks, but...summer for me,

0:36:510:36:56

and I'm sure for any gardener, is a time of work,

0:36:560:36:59

and it's the same when any day produces good weather -

0:36:590:37:05

the first thing you think about is,

0:37:050:37:07

"I've got to get straight back in the garden and get back to work."

0:37:070:37:10

Summertime is the peak in most gardens,

0:37:220:37:26

unless you've got a garden that is particularly designed to have plants

0:37:260:37:30

that are going to flower in the autumn and the winter

0:37:300:37:33

and the early spring,

0:37:330:37:34

so there is a plateau period, but in a garden such as this,

0:37:340:37:39

where there's so much variety and so many different plants,

0:37:390:37:43

you've got things happening all the time, and therefore,

0:37:430:37:47

there's no complete plateau,

0:37:470:37:48

no levelling off of two or three weeks

0:37:480:37:51

where everything's absolutely the same and standing still.

0:37:510:37:54

Everything is changing.

0:37:540:37:56

As I say, more particularly in a garden such as this

0:37:560:37:58

with so much variation.

0:37:580:38:00

Summer makes me feel good.

0:38:400:38:42

I think the sun on your back just makes everything OK.

0:38:420:38:46

Takes all the old aches away,

0:38:460:38:48

and, yeah, everybody likes a bit of sunshine, don't they?

0:38:480:38:51

It's always sad when you realise

0:38:570:38:58

you've gone through the peak of summer,

0:38:580:39:00

and that it's going to end soon.

0:39:000:39:04

Seeing the season getting a little bit cooler, and things going over,

0:39:050:39:10

flowers past their best, and a lot of the crops finished.

0:39:100:39:14

But then you've got autumn to look forward to,

0:39:160:39:19

and a whole different range of things being ready.

0:39:190:39:22

It's amazing that you have this nectar

0:41:590:42:02

at the end of a full growing season,

0:42:020:42:04

so there you have your tree in the soil...

0:42:040:42:07

..taking up the water and the nutrients in the soil,

0:42:080:42:11

up through the tree, to give you the beautiful blossom,

0:42:110:42:13

which then turns into the succulent, wonderful apples

0:42:130:42:17

that we then press, and make litres and litres and litres

0:42:170:42:21

of delicious pure apple juice.

0:42:210:42:23

Much as we think of spring as the beginning of life,

0:42:340:42:37

the harvest then must have been linked

0:42:370:42:39

to the completion of the summer -

0:42:390:42:41

the project is done, and now you are gathering the food

0:42:410:42:44

that is effectively going to allow you to survive

0:42:440:42:47

the dark winter periods that are coming,

0:42:470:42:50

so the harvest would have been extremely important to them

0:42:500:42:53

in the respect of survival.

0:42:530:42:55

We have a lot of modern festivities built around the spring

0:42:550:42:59

and the harvest, going into autumn and so on,

0:42:590:43:02

and these are hangers-on, really,

0:43:020:43:03

from that older period where we were much more dependent

0:43:030:43:06

on the immediate productivity of the land beneath us,

0:43:060:43:09

rather than being able to import what we don't have from elsewhere.

0:43:090:43:13

The cycle of growing and dying on the Earth in a garden

0:46:060:46:11

is mirrored with the cycle of the Earth going around the sun,

0:46:110:46:16

but all of these things can be put into the context

0:46:160:46:19

of a very long cycle of the Earth continuing to move around the sun

0:46:190:46:25

for billions of years, and even the sun moving around the centre

0:46:250:46:30

of our own galaxy, the Milky Way,

0:46:300:46:32

which is on a timescale of 230 million years,

0:46:320:46:37

and the cycle of the formation of the universe to the present day,

0:46:370:46:41

which has taken 13.7 billion years.

0:46:410:46:45

Summer draws to an end as...

0:47:070:47:10

A stillness in the air, I think, when it comes to autumn.

0:47:100:47:15

And I really love as everything sort of starts to sort of die down,

0:47:160:47:22

because the light quality within the garden

0:47:220:47:24

is just stunning in the autumn.

0:47:240:47:26

I guess in the autumn, you sort of...

0:47:300:47:33

It's a time where you notice it's been...

0:47:330:47:36

It's sort of your annual mark.

0:47:360:47:38

So when the leaves start falling off the trees

0:47:380:47:39

and the plants start going back into hibernation,

0:47:390:47:43

you sort of notice it's been another year,

0:47:430:47:46

and so you notice everything is a year older.

0:47:460:47:49

It's been a year since this time last year, so I guess autumn, yeah,

0:47:490:47:53

it is quite a sort of reference point

0:47:530:47:55

to being a year older.

0:47:550:47:58

Well, as a gardener,

0:48:070:48:09

no season is ever long enough, really.

0:48:090:48:11

Spring is by in the blink of an eye, and then summer.

0:48:130:48:17

So...

0:48:170:48:18

..the same with autumn, really. It's... It's just so quick.

0:48:190:48:22

Gardeners I think are aware of the years turning,

0:48:380:48:41

because it's such a seasonal job

0:48:410:48:44

that you're aware every month what you've got to be doing,

0:48:440:48:47

so I think time probably goes quicker.

0:48:470:48:49

As I say, there are jobs, especially in the garden,

0:48:490:48:52

that you can only do at certain times of the year,

0:48:520:48:55

so you can't do a job in January that you do in June,

0:48:550:48:58

so you've always got a calendar with you, so you are...

0:48:580:49:02

You're watching the time.

0:49:020:49:03

Yeah, I suppose it's sort of a closing chapter in your life,

0:49:170:49:22

but you mustn't think of it like, you know, the end of something,

0:49:220:49:26

but the start of something new, I suppose,

0:49:260:49:29

because, like I say, you're always looking ahead,

0:49:290:49:32

but you've always got to look forward.

0:49:320:49:34

If you spend too much time looking back,

0:49:340:49:35

you'll...spend all your time regretting what you haven't done,

0:49:350:49:40

rather than enjoying what you have achieved.

0:49:400:49:42

You've got... Perhaps you've dug your potatoes,

0:50:200:50:23

you've harvested your carrots, you've got your...

0:50:230:50:26

green stuff ready for the winter,

0:50:260:50:28

after you've netted it to keep the pigeons off, but otherwise, I mean,

0:50:280:50:33

there's always something to look forward to.

0:50:330:50:35

You think, there's pruning the garden and tidying up.

0:50:350:50:38

There's always jobs to do in the garden.

0:50:380:50:40

I mean, you never... You never...

0:50:400:50:42

Even if you sit in the potting shed, my old potting shed down there,

0:50:420:50:46

you think, "Well, what am I going to do next week," you know?

0:50:460:50:49

So you've got to plan ahead all of the time.

0:50:490:50:51

I think there's always time for reflection in gardens,

0:51:110:51:15

but perhaps that's...

0:51:150:51:17

..more true in the autumn, when you see things dying back,

0:51:180:51:24

and you see things that are no longer going to grow and flourish

0:51:240:51:30

in the way they have during the past spring and summer season.

0:51:300:51:35

In relation to one's own life...

0:51:350:51:37

..I think it's quite important to reflect on the fact

0:51:380:51:42

that we're not here forever, but...

0:51:420:51:46

..as a gardener, you know that that cycle is something which is...

0:51:470:51:53

In the winter, you're not seeing things completely die -

0:51:560:51:59

they go to sleep, and then things come to life again.

0:51:590:52:04

Oh, autumn feels like an ending and a beginning,

0:52:180:52:22

because it's when you harvest things -

0:52:220:52:25

that's the end of that growing season for a particular plant,

0:52:250:52:29

but it's definitely a beginning to things as well.

0:52:290:52:32

There's a lot of...a lot of things that grow during the winter

0:52:320:52:35

and things that you can only do in the winter,

0:52:350:52:37

so it's a fresh start on all those jobs.

0:52:370:52:40

It's a culmination of your work of spring and summer in many ways,

0:52:400:52:44

but it's also the starting of something new,

0:52:440:52:47

and winter crops and winter jobs, and a refreshing of the soil...

0:52:470:52:52

and I'm approaching the autumn of my life,

0:52:520:52:55

and I feel that it's a little bit of a change and a fresh start.

0:52:550:52:59

The times I've been here and the times gone, I mean,

0:53:020:53:05

cos you're more aware of each month,

0:53:050:53:08

you know, March, sowing, summer, autumn, winter...

0:53:080:53:12

Time goes fast.

0:53:120:53:15

And you are more aware of it. That's not a bad thing.

0:53:150:53:19

Today, I'm cutting down the tomatoes, etc.

0:53:190:53:21

And it doesn't seem like five minutes ago

0:53:210:53:24

that you were growing the tomato from seed,

0:53:240:53:26

and now we're putting it all away,

0:53:260:53:29

and putting it back into the garden in the compost.

0:53:290:53:31

Ever since humans have been on the Earth,

0:54:080:54:12

we have measured our time by the movement of the Earth,

0:54:120:54:16

and the movement of the Earth

0:54:160:54:18

relative to other objects in the sky.

0:54:180:54:21

We measure our days by the cycle of the Earth spinning on its axis,

0:54:210:54:26

and we measure our years by the Earth moving around the sun,

0:54:260:54:30

or the sun appearing to move around the Earth.

0:54:300:54:33

When... Yeah, when you build a house,

0:54:490:54:51

you have bricks and mortar,

0:54:510:54:52

and you are left with this big statue of life,

0:54:520:54:55

and that's your remnants of life, but mine is in the garden.

0:54:550:54:58

Somebody else can come along in a year's time and say,

0:54:590:55:01

"Somebody worked here and they dug this soil."

0:55:010:55:03

Well, you know, that's my step in time,

0:55:030:55:06

so I do leave something behind.

0:55:060:55:08

Well, when you work in a garden that's been around

0:55:210:55:23

as long as this garden has, you do feel that you're...

0:55:230:55:26

..a caretaker, and you're just there for a time...

0:55:270:55:30

..building on what other people have done before you.

0:55:310:55:34

I think all people that work in gardens and on the land

0:55:430:55:49

can't fail to see...the cycle of life and the years turning by.

0:55:490:55:56

It's in front of us all the time.

0:55:570:55:59

A striking and poignant portrayal of time passing in a beautiful Sussex walled garden. Using real-time and time-lapse footage, the film explores the relationship between the seasons and the plants and people who work within the walls of the garden. Locked into the clock of the solar system, the garden performs its annual display, guided by those passionately engaged with its soil.


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