Dame Judi Dench has been a tree-lover for many years. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve adored trees,” she tells Express. “Do you know there are more trees than there are stars in our galaxy?” Now, a new documentary called Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees explores the 82-year-old actress’ affinity with nature.
The documentary takes viewers through Dench’s personal woodland at her home in Surrey, England, which she has nurtured for decades. “I’ve turned my garden into a secret woodland and I think of my trees as part of my extended family. But I have always suspected that there is much more to these beautiful, magical beings.”
Dench has a tradition of planting a tree in commemoration of lost friends and family. “It’s about remembering and it’s something that’s living that goes on,” she explains. “You don’t remember them and stop; you remember them and the memory goes on and gets more wonderful.”
The documentary looks at the latest scientific research detailing how trees react to different seasons, and also delves into Dench’s relationship with her partner of seven years, conservationist David Mills. Mills runs the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, Surrey and the couple bonded over their shared love of plantlife. “When it’s freezing outside, there’s nothing I like better than sitting in the warmth with my chap, David,” Dench says. “He has devoted his life to nature and conservation. He shares my passion for trees.”
Another of the Dame’s passions is Shakespeare, which connects to her love of nature. “I’m besotted with Shakespeare and it’s so clear to me that the woods was central to his life and work,” she says. Dench has performed 30 Shakespeare plays during her extensive career as an actress, and recites several of the playwright’s nature-related sonnets during the documentary.
Dench reveals that her favourite tree from her impressive garden is a 200-year-old mighty oak.
Watch the teaser trailer for Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees below.