As the seasons slip by on the centuries-old Dutch estate, 85-year-old pruning master Jan Freriks and owner Daan van der Have work on cultivating crops in the kitchen garden. “To do this successfully requires a degree of obsessiveness,” the old man explains in Portrait of a Garden, a calm, observational documentary.
The pruning master still works every day. For fifteen years, the two men have been labouring on a pear arbour whose trees this year may finally meet overhead. But how to prune it? And all the other trees, plants and herbs that grow here? Once, you could even be a professor in this, but the university abolished the position and now the knowledge is in danger of being lost. Fortunately, van der Have wants to prevent this. While pruning and discussing the weather and the state of the world, he watches the centuries-old art of the pruning master and memorises the terms.