Negotiating with Nature



A Film by Stefan van Norden


Negotiating with Nature is a film about why the perennial garden still matters. This is a “why” to, not a “how” to garden film. The film will question whether, in a high tech world that is constantly changing, does the perennial garden really matter anymore? Does the perennial garden continue to have an important place in our relationship with nature? Does perennial gardening have a valuable role to play as we navigate the transition to a sustainable future? This film intends to explore these questions and provide insights into the challenges and opportunities found in the future of perennial gardening.


Throughout history perennial gardens have been sources of art and design, healing, beauty, learning, and places of repose, all of which have been falling out of favor with today’s younger generation. While it may appear that younger people are oriented towards nature, with concern about climate change and increased attention to the sources of our food, they have lost touch with the emotional and spiritual values and benefits that developing an intimate relationship with the perennial garden provides.


An important part of the film will be the role the public garden will have in our future. It will focus on the importance of both public and private gardens and how they shape our relationship with nature. Most recently, the High Line garden in New York City has had an amazing response and reveals the desire people have for nature to enrich their lives. A 1.45 mile makeover of abandoned urban rail lines is an example of how nature’s benefits can be found in the most unlikely of places. Other examples will include the Lurie Garden of Chicago which is built on the roof top of a garage.


The film will also show how the garden relates to our social issues including food production, medicine, land use and ecology. It will look at the incredible diversity in the types of gardens and how the business of gardening affects our choices. Finally, the film will focus on the evolution of the garden and its place in our future. At a time when the perennial garden is at its most diverse, interest in it seems to be waning. Is there a role for the perennial garden to play in our future?



Noel Kingsbury  Garden designer and writer, Wales

Gordon Hayward  Garden designer and writer, Vermont

Jay Parini  Poet, writer and professor, Vermont

Scott Stokoe  Ecological educator, Vermont

Peter Hatch  Former curator of Monticello gardens, Virginia

Lynden Miller  Public garden designer, New York City

David Culp  Garden designer and writer, Pennsylvania

Claudia West  Nurseryperson and municipal design, Pennsylvania

Sandy Price  Garden designer and garden historian, Vermont

Roy Dublick  Nurseryman and writer, Wisconsin

Benjamin Futa  Horticulturist, Michigan

Kelly D. Norris   Horticulturist, Iowa

Colleen Lockovitch  Horticulturist, Oregon

Adam Wheeler  Nurseryman, Connecticut



Richard Luv  Author, Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle

Piet Oudolf  Dutch garden designer

Joshua David  President of Friends of the High Line

                Fiscal Advisor

Upper Valley Arts

P.O. Box 332

Norwich, Vt. 05055

All donations are tax deductable and can be made through the Upper Valley Arts


Funds Raised to Date



Byrne Foundation

Friends and clients



 Hand of Brick(2013)- A documentary about the history of the Densmore Brick Company that operated in Lebanon, New Hampshire from 1800 to 1974. The Densmore Brick Co. produced the bricks that built many of the buildings at Dartmouth College, Kimball Union Academy and Colby-Sawyer along with many of the brick buildings throughout the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. Copies available upon request.


AVA Gallery- Lebanon, NH

Nugget Theater-Hanover, NH

New Hampshire Public Television-Concord, NH  


For the past 30 years gardening has been an exceedingly important part of my life, both at my home, and in the gardens of others. Gardening at home has been a spiritual journey for me, providing insight into the world around me. Over the years, my garden has evolved and is something that has inspired me to become a better person.

In 2008, with my love for gardening, I started my own gardening service in the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire and Vermont. I have lived in the area most of my life and have grown attached to the people and places around me. From Hanover, New Hampshire to Norwich, Vermont, Lyme, New Hampshire to Hartford, Vermont, it has been a joy to give back to the community where I live through the art of gardening. This film is also my way of giving back to the garden for what it has given me.

Contact Information

Stefan van Norden

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Best of…


 Here is a list of the most viewed blogs from my website…                       (just click on date to take you there.)                                       

 June 2013   Another Stonewall/ The Layered Garden (book review)                         January 2013  History of Place                                                                                                   July 2012  Bells in the Garden                                                                                                    April 2012  Water in the Garden (with video)                                                                        February 2012  Cottonstone Farm (with video)                                                                  January  2012  Grasses in the Garden (with video)                                                            October  2011 Painting in My Garden/ The Bench                                                              September 2011  Bulbs in the Garden/ Buddha in the Garden(book review)              May 2011  Symbols in the Garden                                                                                          January  2011  Winter Pruning/ Concrete Garden Balls


-Your Local Dutchman                

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