Gardening in a War Zone Official poster

copyright Floret LLC

Gardening in a War Zone is a powerful and moving documentary about cultivating hope and the beauty of nature even as your world is falling to pieces. Alla Olkhovska is a gardener in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Shortly after the war began, without funds to leave the country and as the sole provider for her extended family, Alla began selling seeds from her garden. One by one she hand gathers ripe seed from her carefully tended collection of specialty plants.

Alla gathering flowers and dried grasses from her garden. Copyright Floret LLC

“It’s very important to me to have fresh flowers and I do it despite everything, even when it’s really hard. It helps to cope with the problems.”  — Alla Olkhovska

In narrating this short exquisitely beautiful film, Alla shares her love for her gardens alongside the brutality of constant explosions and blaring air raid sirens that interrupt most days. Frequent power outages, no heat, even during a harsh winter, further complicate an already dangerous life. The film was shot in Alla’s garden during harvest season and features the seedheads of the many specialty clematis in her collection.

Freshly harvested clematis seed. Copyright Alla Olkhovska

“I think that beauty will prevail over the ugliness of war.” – Alla Olkhovska

Gardeners believe in tomorrow. The metaphor of seed, potential and the promise of future generations, is never more apt. Alla’s garden is both a sanctuary and a means of survival, a beautiful example of reciprocal tending, from gardener to garden, from garden to gardener.

“I think people need to see there’s still hope in this world and Alla embodies that. She continues to find a way to care for her family through the simple and beautiful act of growing flowers and harvesting the seeds. I know this give me hop and I believe it will do the same for the audience.” – Director Rob Finch

An summer arrangement featuring several clematis blooms and seedheads created by Alla Olkhovska. Copyright Alla Olkhovska

Gardening in a War Zone is the first Floret Original Film from executive producer Erin Benzakein, a Washington-based flower farmer, educator, entrepreneur, and owner of Floret Flower Farm. The film was released December 12th on the Floret YouTube channel.

The {Farmer} & the Florist Interview: Alla Olkhovska offers the backstory as to how this project came about. Learn more about Alla by visiting her website and her Instagram page.