Family Online

Take a look at our movie over the holidays

LiesIToldMyLittleSister-DVD-CoverBFF-2DI just thought I’d remind you that our movie, Lies I Told My Little Sister, is available for streaming over the holidays and well worth putting your feet up and taking a break for.

It's a female-driven family drama/comedy with a unique blend of heart and humor.

Amazon customers say in their reviews:

“Overall a great find & fantastic movie. Wonderful performances by Lucy Walters & cast with a touching, thought provoking, story line I think many will be able to relate to for a variety of reasons.”

“I recently rented Lies I Told My Little Sister to watch at home and I loved it! The family’s story of finding hope after loss was heartwarming and I very much enjoyed the main character’s journey. “

“I loved this movie. it was smart, sexy, warm, and poignant…a great movie to curl up with.”

“This is one of those lovely little gems of a film that manages to bridge the gender gap. It's story and fine acting touches the heart, stirs up memories and throws in relatable moments. Many of us have been down a similar path. Although not a classic "tearjerker"' do have a box of tissues handy... just in case.”

(Only available in the US at the moment, sorry.)






Our movie hits the streets (and screens)

LiesIToldMyLittleSister-DVD-CoverBFF-2DLies I Told My Little Sister, the feature film written by my wife judywhite and nephew Jonathan Weisbrod, has recently been released in the USA. Hooray!! It stars Lucy Walters, currently making waves in the hit TV drama series Power, and rocker turned actress Ellen Foley, Meat Loaf’s duet partner from the Bat Out of Hell album. It also features US soap star Alicia Minshew of All My Children and Donovan Patton of the pioneering children’s US TV series Blues Clues. Oh, and me…! Not starring, exactly, but still…

Telling the story of a globe trotting photographer and the little sister she used to persecute with outrageous lies, as the whole family adjusts to the death of the oldest third sister they all head off on a family vacation – packing, as it says on the DVD cover, all the childhood baggage.

The resulting fun, fury and frustration, fuelled by vodka and love, makes a tender and warm-hearted movie revealing the elastic boundaries, and the unbreakable connections, of family love. Shot on Cape Cod, in New Jersey and at The Phoenix Store just a few miles from our front door in Pennsylvania, the film won awards at more than twenty festivals across the country last year with all the main players and the film itself being nominated or winning awards.

Horticulture? Well, apart from some lovely blue hydrangeas… not much. Although your humble blogger has a small part playing Ellen Foley’s love interest – and who could ask for more in their first movie part?!

This is a really enjoyable drama/comedy about a family full of engaging characters and how they react to their past and to the death of the oldest sister. It’s funny as well as poignant. The director and crew are almost all recent graduates of New York University film school as they embark on their careers after making some award-winning short films while at college.

It was fascinating to participate, even in a small way, and I came away full of admiration for the craft of acting; seeing these fine actors at work made me realize how good they are.

You can watch the trailer below, or watch the first two minutes of the movie here (just click the tab).

Chosen by Geena Davis as a special selection for Walmart, Lies I Told My Little Sister is available for streaming now at Walmart, amazon, iTunes, VUDU, Google Play and other services. DVDs are available in about 3000 Walmart stores. Negotiations continue about a European release.

Go on... Give it a try… I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

 Next time, back to plants...

Shades Of Blue - an uplifting new book

Shades Of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue edited by Amy Ferris (Seal Press)I like to bring the various ventures of family and friends to your attention here on the Transatlantic Gardener, whether they’re horticultural or not, and there’s a flurry of them coming this autumn. All are special in their different ways.

First off, published yesterday, is a collection of essays edited by our friend the indomitable Amy Ferris and including a contribution by my wife judywhite. Amy is the author of one of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent times, Marrying George Clooney, and of the screenplays for the movies Funny Valentines and Mr. Wonderful. judy began as a humor writer for Seventeen and other magazines, transitioned into writing about and photographing plants and gardens. In recent years she's shifted focus again, writing the script for the movie Lies I Told My Little Sister… More on that when it’s released next week.

This book is called Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue – and the first thing to say is this is NOT a book that will make you feel worse. As Laura Davis, bestselling author of I Thought We’d Never Speak Again says in her review: “These compelling tales of depression aren’t depressing—they are emblazoned with hope—because every person in this book is a survivor. A survivor who doesn’t flinch from explaining exactly how they climbed out of their own personal pit of despair. How they chose life.” judy's piece is both agonizing, and funny.

With tenderness and tragedy, thirty five writers lay themselves bare, revealing a series of stories to inspire and hearten us, however close we’ve come to the desolation they describe. And, be assured, there are laughs, too.

Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue edited by Amy Ferris is published by Seal Press.

Find out more at the Seal Press website


European premiere of our movie on Friday!

European premiere of Lies I Told My Little Sister in Northamptonshire on 23 JanuaryI've occasionally mentioned family activities other than horticultural ones - and the next exciting event is the European premiere of our movie in Northamptonshire on Friday!

Lies I Told My Little Sister is a family drama-comedy, written by my wife judy, which won many awards at North American festivals last year including Three Best Film honours, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.

After the death of her oldest sister, a globe-trotting photographer is spurred by guilt onto a family trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with the younger sister she used to torment. Amid recriminations, revelations, a very strange shopkeeper and an old romance, they square off against the patterns of childhood.

Starring Lucy Walters, known for her breakout role in Steve McQueen's BAFTA-nominated Shame opposite Michael Fassbender. Also starring rocker/Broadway star Ellen Foley, who was Meat Loaf's duet partner on Bat Out of Hell, fifth best-selling album of all time. Foley, once girlfriend to Mick Jones of The Clash, was inspiration for their iconic song, "Should I Stay or Should I Go." I shoiuld also mention that I myself have a small cameo!

Now Lies I Told My Little Sister comes to our home town in England for its European premiere and judy will be there to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. It will screen at the Stahl Theatre in Oundle at 7.45pm on Friday 23 January. Click here for more information and to order tickets online, or ring  01832 274734. The bar opens at 7.00pm. Hope to see you there!

Sundews on the shore

We’ve been here at the house on the lake for thirteen and a half years, and it took my five year old grandson to find an insectivorous plant that we didn’t know we had.

Monty is mad about insects – and so, by association, insectivorous plants. He has pitcher plants growing in their kitchen in the London suburbs. So when he was exploring along the banks of our lake with his dad Carl (below, click to enlarge), he knew a sundew when he saw it because he has some in a pot at home. And he knows what they do to insects. He’s not at all squeamish and watched with interest while I hit the bass his dad caught on the head so we could have it for supper.

So it turns out that we have a flourishing colony of Drosera rotundifolia (above, click to enlarge), the round leaved sundew, growing on the bank of our lake. But they’re growing in an unlikely spot. They’re only a few feet from the water, even now when the water levels are very low, but they’re on an east facing sandy bank where the soil is actually quite dry. Not the soggy sphagnum which we associate with these plants. While there is some moss, some plants are growing in bare sand.

Most of the bank is overhung by low shrubs, so only a five year old is short enough to make his way easily along there and look closely at the plants. But for two or three feet at the point where this colony is happy enough to have produced quite a few seedheads, it’s much more open.

This is a plant that grows all around the world – in a band through the Northern Hemisphere that takes in much of North America, north and eastern Europe and much of northern Russia. In Britain, it occurs mainly in Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well as southern and south west England. It's found scattered across Pennsylvania, in our county (Pike County) it’s recorded from seven sites but surely occurs more widely than that. But it took a five year old to find it on our own property.

In the family: Lies I Told My Little Sister

Once in a while, I tell you about interesting things that my family is doing - especially if there's on online component. So here's some news: my wife, judywhite, who's a noted garden writer and photographer, is in the midst of something truly awe-inspiring. She decided to break out of the horticultural mode, to write her first screenplay – and it's being turned into a feature film called Lies I Told My Little Sister! Filming starts in three weeks.

The film is a drama-comedy set on Cape Cod, about family dynamics and sibling rivalry, and it’s been fascinating to watch all the behind-the-scenes details that go into the making of a motion picture. It’s being produced and directed by an amazing team straight out of the acclaimed film department at NYU (New York University), who earlier this year swept the New Visions & Voices Film Festival in NYC with their first project, a short film, garnering Best Picture, Best Director, Best Producer, Best Editing. Lies I Told My Little Sister will be their first feature film.

Wonderful actors have been cast, including breakout actress Lucy Walters from the 2011 BAFTA-nominated film Shame and former rocker Ellen Foley – known for her silver sledgehammer of a voice on such iconic songs as Meat Loaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Read an interview with Lucy that IndieLondon did after they found she’d been cast in Lies.

The primary funding for the film is in place, but there's a way that anyone interested can get involved and help out. For the next 32 days, you can go to IndieGoGo  to make a donation, small or large, that will go toward some incidental costs, and you can be a part of the film! There are lots of perks being offered, such as your name in the onscreen credits, signed screenplays, props from the movie, DVD of the final film, even a part as walk-on extra.

It just goes to prove that you can reinvent yourself at any point, if you just take risks and try. Bravo to my wonderful writer of a wife!

And check out my previous post about my daughter's online business His Emporium.

In the family: His Emporium

His Emporium: Offering Vintage and Antique Gifts for Men. Image © His EmporiumThis is the first of an occasional series of posts looking at what the rest of the family is up to online. I just thought you'd be interested to see that gardening is only part of it, and that almost everyone else seems to have bypassed horticulture entirely - but it adds up to an impressive collection of enterprises.

The latest to hit our screens is His Emporium (click to enlarge the front page), an online source of unusual vintage and antique gifts for men. It’s run by my daughter Lizzie and son-in-law Carl, with an equal measure of assistance and impediment from their toddler Monty and the benign tolerance of Piccola the little black cat.
Marilyn Munroe prints by Andy Warhol (click to enlarge)
They sell none of those gadgets that marketing people seem to assume are the only things in which men are interested. No, His Emporium features carefully chosen vintage and antique gifts for men including: Andy Warhol’s prints of Marilyn Monroe (right, click to enlarge); some impressive vintage watches; “naughty” playing cards; Christmas issues of the classic British country magazine The Field from the 1970s; hip flasks and antique decanters and glasses; retro cigarette lighters, and even a very rare vintage Manchester United lamp which is probably from the 1970s (below, click to enlarge).

You get the picture? The range is astonishing, and it’s all good quality and at a fair price. What's more, they’re offering free UK delivery on everything during December. Don’t you just love a bargain?

Vintage Manchester United lamp © His EmporiumAs well as being a great source of unusual gifts in Britain, His Emporium is a great site for family and friends around the world to use to send gifts to British men – without the cost of international shipping.

OK, she’s my daughter – what do you expect me to say?! But trust me, if they didn't have a great selection of really special gifts I wouldn't be posting about the site at all. This is a gardening blog, after all!

So, if you’re looking for an unusual vintage gift for a man in your life start at His Emporium.