The Secret Garden
One of my very favorite books from childhood is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Van read it to us in class and I was just hooked – as have many a little girl since it was first published over 100 years ago. In addition to the lovely story of the lonely and miserable little girl who find happiness, family and friends on the windswept moors of England, but it had the romantic and mysterious lure of a secret place behind a high garden wall.
Who doesn’t feel the pull of a walled-off space – the need to get in there and find out what’s going on? Secret gardens are romantic in their pull towards possible adventure. We think of clandestine assignations (how’s that for an old-timey expression) and private moments. It takes daring to walk down a path into the unknown, or to find the door and push it open. It’s just a uniquely human need to go exploring.
Walls and Doors to a Secret Garden
Naturally, there’s nothing like a walled-off secret garden for structure and the ultimate in private spaces.
It just makes you want to breach the walls to see what’s inside, doesn’t it? Especially if it might look like this garden in Germany below.
Arbors and Pathways to a Secret Garden
Even a little picket fence does the trick.
There’s nothing like a surprising moment such as this Lady in the Ivy just peaking out. She’s keeping a lot of secrets, I think!
Gardens at The Mount in The Berkshires
This is the view from the back terrace at Edith Wharton’s house in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The “Italian” garden in the far corner has all the hallmarks of a secret garden.
It’s out of the way, behind ivy covered walls and has little private spaces that are surprising and delightful.
I love the little wood benches about the garden for a little moment of solitude.
The Secret Garden of Nook Cottage
Okay, this is my little back yard. It’s surrounded by high stockade fencing for a true feeling of privacy. And I love the little door in the back – which in truth only opens up into the woods behind. But just having the door feels mysterious.
Tips for making your own Secret Garden
- Create a private space that’s tucked away, out of sight.
- Create a pathway and some kind of visual “obstacle” such as a wall, door or flower covered arbor
- Add a small bench or other seat to offer a place to rest
Edith Wharton’s Gardens at The Mount
New England Garden’s in Newburyport