If you were part of the audience at the Embassy theatre for the world premiere of Gardening with Soul during the International Film Festival you will have witnessed something quite extraordinary. A standing ovation for a 92 year-old Island Bay resident and a speech by the diminutive woman, who started by telling the clapping crowd, “I’m so glad you all like gardening so much.”

The film is now back by popular demand with an independent nationwide release and it’s a film viewing experience every Wellingtonian should be encouraged to embrace. Not only is Sister Loyola Galvin (Gardener of the Year in 2008 among other things), an incredible gardener who grows food for the Sisters in the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, she’s also an incredibly wise human being who has helped set up community gardens, carried out a permaculture course aged 80 and has limitless energy for everyone and everything.

As David Larsen writes in the Listener: …should you find yourself wanting your faith in humanity buoyed up a little, may I direct you to ‘Gardening with Soul’, a lovely, gentle study of a year in the life of Sister Loyola…. You will not encounter a more energetic person on film this year: a generational icon of pragmatic, cheerful, can-do Kiwi virtues.

Director Jess Feast  has said she wanted to “bottle her up and spread her around” and she certainly has.

Celebrate spring and check it out. I’ve been potting up succulents like a mad thing since watching the film (no other space here) so be warned. As one reviewer said, “it may very well be life-changing.”

Screening around the region:

Waikanae – Shoreline Cinema

Paraparaumu – Cinema Gold

Pauatahanui – Lighthouse

Petone  – Lighthouse

Wellington – Paramount, Penthouse

Image by Dion Howard
Image by Dion Howard