West Asheville gardener Christopher Mello and filmmaker Bill Torgerson will present their short documentary Yes You May: The Story of Christopher’s Garden at Skyland Library on Thursday, Aug. 13.
Located just around the corner from Harvest Records, Mello’s fantastical garden has long been a feature on the West Asheville Garden Stroll and a favorite of passersby. Mello has kept the space open for the public to wander into, and it’s easy to see why that might be a irresistible temptation. The garden is filled with glass bottles, ceramic goblins, a fence made of shovels, salvaged metal sculptures, bright blue fountains and painted trees and a special variety of blue-purple poppy that Mello has spent the last 13 years hybridizing.
To Torgerson, it seemed like the type of space that would be home to some out-of-this-world creatures — or at least a film about them. The filmmaker and the gardener meant when Torgerson was looking around for a shooting location for his 48 Hour Film Project short about “a demented pixie.”
“Within five minutes of meeting him, we were shooting a scene with him in the garden,” Torgerson recalls. “I think that’s a testament to how open a person he is. He had my daughters immediately eating daylilies.”
Torgerson says his background is primarily in teaching and writing, but Mello’s open spirit inspired him to make the documentary. “There’s a sign in front of the garden that says ‘Yes, you may,’ and I think he means that literally,” Torgerson says. “You stumble onto the garden, and you’re looking into this place that’s so darkly beautiful, and you wonder if you can go in there. He writes ‘Yes, you may’ because he means, ‘Yes, you can come in,’ but people in the community have taken that as inspiration to do other things: take a class, go for a trip on the parkway. For me, it was to make this little film.”
The 29-minute cut of Yes You May: The Story of Christopher’s Garden will screen at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed by a Q&A with Torgerson and Mello. The event is free to attend. Watch the trailer below.