How Mary Reynolds made her Wild garden dreams come true

September 29th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

Emma Greenwell as Mary Reynolds in Dare to be Wild which is released this weekend.

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The story of Irishwoman Mary Reynolds’ journey from rank outsider to winner of a gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show is the subject of a feature film which is released this weekend.



THE story of Irishwoman Mary Reynolds’ journey from rank outsider to winner of a gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show is the subject of a feature film which is released this weekend.

Writer and director and regular Baltimore resident Vivienne De Courcy vividly re-creates the true-life story of the gardener who dared to create a wild garden at the most prestigious garden show in the world. 

The feature-length film Dare to be Wild, tells the story of Mary’s journey to qualify for the Chelsea competition, how she sourced the plants she needed, and the actual struggle to have the garden shipped to the UK and built on time.

With so many obstacles to overcome, it is not surprising that the movie provides audiences with a huge feel-good factor, as well as offering a cliff-hanger edge. 

The film had its first Irish screening at the Jameson International Film festival in Dublin in March 2015, but it also opened the Fastnet Short Film Festival in Schull during the summer. It was at a screening in Skibbereen last year – during National Digital Week at the West Cork Hotel – that people had the chance to meet many of the local stars of the movie, including Christy Collard of Future Forests, which is located just outside Kealkil.

Christy is the man who helped Mary to source the wild ferns and other indigenous plants that featured so prominently in her award-winning garden. And there’s even a love story.

Dare to be Wild is also a highly personal story in that each of the characters prove themselves to be natural rebels – occasionally pure mule – and passionate about what they do.

In the Daily Telegraph, Mary Reynolds was justifiably described as ‘a prodigy in the field of landscape design who has one powerful goal to share the uncompromising beauty and power of wild nature with the world’.

‘Mary,’ it added, ‘is an iconic Irish heroine and Dare to be Wild is an ambitious film that seeks to honour her contribution and reiterate the importance of connecting to the environment around us.’

The fact that Mary Reynolds goes on – at the age of 27 – to become the youngest ever gold medal winner is hardly a spoiler alert because there is so much in this movie to recommend it to Irish and international audiences. 

Speaking to The Southern Star this week, writer and director Vivienne said she was pleased with audience reaction to the Irish premiere in Dublin the night before.

The writer – who was en route to London, where the British premiere will take place on Wednesday night – said: ‘We are heading into the Bridget Jones blizzard.’

Vivienne is hoping that if they can get enough people into the cinemas this weekend to see the film, then word of mouth will carry it because they know the movie is strong enough.

With this in mind they are running a competition. To be in with a chance of winning a weekend break for four at Inishbeg, Ireland’s premier private island estate, located near Baltimore, simply post your photo from your Dare to be Wild gathering with the hashtag #daretobewildgathering.’ 

Clearly, this movie – which was essentially ten years in the making – is a labour of love for Vivienne, who lives in Baltimore during the summer. She describes West Cork as ‘the great landscape love of my life’ and is delighted that the movie features so many of its stunning locations.

She has also called the film ‘a call to action to bring wild nature back into that little space we ourselves control – our own gardens.’

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