[Videolib] First West Virginia Garden Film Festival - GardenStory + Danske Dandridge

Steve Fesenmaier (fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us)
Fri, 9 Mar 2007 15:14:16 -0500

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March 09, 2007=20
=20
Designer's PBS show gives different perspectives on gardening
=20
By Julie Robinson
Staff writer=20
=20
The grass doesn't grow under garden designer Rebecca Frischkorn's =
feet. A former Charleston resident, Frischkorn lives in Charlottesville, =
Va., where she hosts and produces GardenStory, a 10-part public =
television series.=20

She'll be back in town at 7 p.m. Saturday to introduce two of the =
episodes at the West Virginia Garden Film Festival at the La Belle =
Theater in South Charleston. The festival features episodes on the =
gardens of black poet Anne Spencer and on environmental stewardship in =
Upper Shavers Fork Nature Conservancy Preserve in Randolph County.

In each episode, Frischkorn explores the importance and role of =
gardens from different perspectives, including as a sanctuary, =
classroom, artistic realm and preserve. As a garden designer, Frischkorn =
wanted to share gardens that have changed lives with a broad audience. =
Her favorite episode, which is on the healing power of gardens, hasn't =
been released, yet.

"We feature HIV and senile-dementia patients and seriously ill =
children, whose lives are so dramatically enriched by the gardens they =
tend," she said. "Their caregivers get tearful when they speak of the =
garden's role in the patients' lives."

Her green thumb was nurtured at an early age. Growing up in Maine, =
Frischkorn and her family lived on her grandparents' estate. Years =
earlier, the elder couple hired a then-rare female landscape designer to =
create gardens. With nine children, Frischkorn's parents didn't have =
much leisure time for the gardens they inherited, so they became a bit =
ramshackle during Frischkorn's childhood.

"If you've read 'The Secret Garden,' you know that a deteriorating =
garden is much more magical than a well-maintained garden," she said. =
"When you explore and read a garden, you get to know the choices and =
values of the people who created them. I got to know my grandparents =
better through their gardens."=20

She studied the classics in college and was a young mother in =
Charleston when she decided to take a semester of landscape design =
courses with a friend from her book club. She professionally designed =
her first garden in 1977, a poolside landscape for Gov. Gaston Caperton. =

"When I began, I didn't know much more than some of my clients," =
she said. "I probably designed hundreds of gardens in the Charleston =
area. I was designing about 20 or 30 a year."

One of her favorites is the stone-walled garden on the corner of =
Dickinson and Quarrier streets. Bill and Ann Cooke commissioned her to =
create the garden in memory of their son, Will. Its semi-espaliered =
trees, hellebores, tulips and grape hyacinths provide restful green =
space in a busy downtown area.=20

She moved to Charlottesville in 1998, and shared her gardening =
passion through various courses she taught. A friend in London told her =
about a nun named Sister Wendy, an art connoisseur, who hosted a series =
of television programs on the BBC in which she walked through museums =
and shared her expert perspective. Her down-to-earth commentary made the =
art accessible to everyone.

Her friend suggested Frischkorn host a similar program on gardens. =
Another friend suggested the name "GardenStory," and Frischkorn began =
working on topics and funding for the series. Each episode costs about =
$80,000 to produce, so Frischkorn donned yet another hat - fundraiser.

"Raising money is part of my job now," she said. "Through the =
GardenStory crew, it's been my privilege to learn about filmmaking while =
I teach them about gardens."=20

Film festival attendees will see "The Garden as a Muse," the first =
episode Frischkorn produced. The garden in Lynchburg, Va., was created =
by the poet Spencer, who designed it as a private sanctuary where she =
wrote poetry and as a salon for literary and visionary dignitaries of =
her time.

Spencer grew up in Bramwell, then moved to segregated Lynchburg in =
1901.=20

Frischkorn also will introduce "The Garden as Environmental =
Stewardship," detailing the efforts to preserve the Upper Shavers Form =
Nature Conservancy. Local photographer Steve Payne and landscape painter =
Susan Poffenbarger talk about landscapes from artists' perspective.

The nature preserve pushes the traditional definition of a garden =
to include natural space in which people act as caretakers to preserve a =
rare and endangered place.

"I believe it holds a powerful message," she said. "Gardens are =
not superficial adornments, but rather a way of reconnecting us with our =
environment."=20

The first four GardenStory episodes will air on PBS in June. =
Frischkorn finished producing three more episodes this year and just =
secured funding for the final three episodes. During a recent early =
morning walk with her dog, she noticed that thousands of crocus, =
snowdrops, witch hazel and hellebore were in full bloom, which usually =
happens later in the year.

"When I was talking to a friend about how early spring came this =
year, she commented that our gardens help us understand the big picture =
on global warming," she said.=20

Hmm. "GardenStory: The Garden as a Global Petri Dish" might be a =
good episode.

If you go

The West Virginia Garden Film Festival also will feature a film by =
Jim Surkamp of Jefferson County, "Immortal Essence: The Life of Danske =
Dandridge." The program begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the South =
Charleston Museum in the La Belle Theatre; 311 D St. Admission is $4, or =
$2 for museum members.=20

To contact staff writer Julie Robinson, use e-mail or call =
348-1230.
=20

=20

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March 09, 2007=20

Designer=92s=20 PBS show gives different perspectives on gardening

By = Julie=20 Robinson
Staff writer =

The grass=20 doesn=92t grow under garden designer Rebecca Frischkorn=92s feet. = A former=20 Charleston resident, Frischkorn lives in = Charlottesville, = Va., where she hosts and = produces=20 GardenStory, a 10-part public television series. =

She=92ll be=20 back in town at 7 p.m. Saturday to introduce two of the episodes = at the=20 West Virginia Garden Film Festival at the La Belle Theater in = South = Charleston.=20 The festival features episodes on the gardens of black poet Anne = Spencer=20 and on environmental stewardship in Upper Shavers Fork Nature = Conservancy=20 Preserve in Randolph County.

In = each=20 episode, Frischkorn explores the importance and role of gardens = from=20 different perspectives, including as a sanctuary, classroom, = artistic=20 realm and preserve. As a garden designer, Frischkorn wanted to = share=20 gardens that have changed lives with a broad audience. Her = favorite=20 episode, which is on the healing power of gardens, hasn=92t been = released,=20 yet.

=93We feature=20 HIV and senile-dementia patients and seriously ill children, whose = lives=20 are so dramatically enriched by the gardens they tend,=94 she = said. =93Their=20 caregivers get tearful when they speak of the garden=92s role in = the=20 patients=92 lives.=94

Her green=20 thumb was nurtured at an early age. Growing up in Maine, = Frischkorn=20 and her family lived on her grandparents=92 estate. Years earlier, = the elder=20 couple hired a then-rare female landscape designer to create = gardens. With=20 nine children, Frischkorn=92s parents didn=92t have much leisure = time for the=20 gardens they inherited, so they became a bit ramshackle during=20 Frischkorn=92s childhood.

=93If you=92ve=20 read =91The Secret Garden,=92 you know that a deteriorating garden = is much=20 more magical than a well-maintained garden,=94 she said. =93When = you explore=20 and read a garden, you get to know the choices and values of the = people=20 who created them. I got to know my grandparents better through = their=20 gardens.=94

She studied=20 the classics in college and was a young mother in Charleston when she=20 decided to take a semester of landscape design courses with a = friend from=20 her book club. She professionally designed her first garden in = 1977, a=20 poolside landscape for Gov. Gaston Caperton. =

=93When I=20 began, I didn=92t know much more than some of my clients,=94 she = said. =93I=20 probably designed hundreds of gardens in the Charleston area. I=20 was designing about 20 or 30 a year.=94

One of her=20 favorites is the stone-walled garden on the corner of Dickinson = and=20 Quarrier streets. Bill and Ann Cooke commissioned her to create = the garden=20 in memory of their son, Will. Its semi-espaliered trees, = hellebores,=20 tulips and grape hyacinths provide restful green space in a busy = downtown=20 area.

She moved to=20 Charlottesville in 1998, and = shared her=20 gardening passion through various courses she taught. A friend in=20 London=20 told her about a nun named Sister Wendy, an art connoisseur, who = hosted a=20 series of television programs on the BBC in which she walked = through=20 museums and shared her expert perspective. Her down-to-earth = commentary=20 made the art accessible to everyone.

Her friend=20 suggested Frischkorn host a similar program on gardens. Another = friend=20 suggested the name =93GardenStory,=94 and Frischkorn began working = on topics=20 and funding for the series. Each episode costs about $80,000 to = produce,=20 so Frischkorn donned yet another hat =97 = fundraiser.

=93Raising=20 money is part of my job now,=94 she said. =93Through the = GardenStory crew,=20 it=92s been my privilege to learn about filmmaking while I teach = them about=20 gardens.=94

Film=20 festival attendees will see =93The Garden as a Muse,=94 the first = episode=20 Frischkorn produced. The garden in Lynchburg, Va., was created by the poet = Spencer,=20 who designed it as a private sanctuary where she wrote poetry and = as a=20 salon for literary and visionary dignitaries of her=20 time.

Spencer grew=20 up in Bramwell, then moved to segregated Lynchburg in 1901. =

Frischkorn=20 also will introduce =93The Garden as Environmental Stewardship,=94 = detailing=20 the efforts to preserve the Upper Shavers Form Nature Conservancy. = Local=20 photographer Steve Payne and landscape painter Susan Poffenbarger = talk=20 about landscapes from artists=92 = perspective.

The nature=20 preserve pushes the traditional definition of a garden to include = natural=20 space in which people act as caretakers to preserve a rare and = endangered=20 place.

=93I believe=20 it holds a powerful message,=94 she said. =93Gardens are not = superficial=20 adornments, but rather a way of reconnecting us with our = environment.=94=20

The first=20 four GardenStory episodes will air on PBS in June. Frischkorn = finished=20 producing three more episodes this year and just secured funding = for the=20 final three episodes. During a recent early morning walk with her = dog, she=20 noticed that thousands of crocus, snowdrops, witch hazel and = hellebore=20 were in full bloom, which usually happens later in the=20 year.

=93When I was=20 talking to a friend about how early spring came this year, she = commented=20 that our gardens help us understand the big picture on global = warming,=94=20 she said.

Hmm.=20 =93GardenStory: The Garden as a Global Petri Dish=94 might be a = good=20 episode.

If = you=20 go

The West=20 Virginia Garden Film Festival also will feature a film by Jim = Surkamp of=20 Jefferson=20 County, = =93Immortal=20 Essence: The Life of Danske Dandridge.=94 The program begins at 7 = p.m.=20 Saturday at the South=20 Charleston Museum in the La Belle = Theatre; 311=20 D St. Admission is $4, or $2 for museum members. =

To = contact=20 staff writer Julie Robinson, use e-mail or call=20 = 348-1230.

 

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