Secret Gardens and the Imagination

This week I find myself rereading an old-time classic out loud.  I am being reacquainted with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’ as I read it aloud to my 9 year daughter while camping out for 10 days with her in the paediatric ward of the hospital.  My French is being elevated to yet another level as we undertake a rapid apprenticeship in living with Type 1 diabetes, which after a rushed call to the hospital, we discovered was the cause of her giant fatigue and unquenchable thirst.

Both of us seeking an escape, we embark on our journey towards the secret garden with 9 year old Mary Lennox, who finds herself removed from an exotic life in India and living with a rarely seen and allegedly cantankerous Uncle, in a grand old manor on the moors of England after both her parents succumb to cholera.

We are a couple of chapters into the book and my daughter is feeling a little deceived.  “There’s no secret garden” she says, “and what does it mean, gloomy”.  I have to admit that for a story chosen to perk up an ailing child, the first few chapters are somewhat gloomy indeed.

The Secret Garden in the daytime...

At this point my daughter decides to take the matter into her own hands and here you can see her first attempt at creating a secret garden of her own.  The joy and allure of a great book title, it inspires the imagination before we have even arrived at the promised treasure the book beholds.

Young Mary has been both pampered and neglected in her former colonial life so England is something of a shock, where staff speak to her as an equal and expect her to be somewhat independent.  But this newfound freedom will lead her to discover the enchanted garden and to make new friends, not just of the human variety.

Needless to say, this wonderful book is about transformation in many guises, the human spirit, the magic and healing power of gardens, the wonder of birds and animals and the joy that acts of kindness engender.  It worked wonders for us both.

The Secret Garden at night...

14 thoughts on “Secret Gardens and the Imagination

  1. If you want a lead to some resources for type 1 diabetes, email me (and look at tomorrow’s blog.) I was diagnosed 42 years ago. Don’t know if this applies where you are, but you may want to look into an insulin pump.


  2. This is my daughter’s favorite childhood book. it’s one of the few she took with her when she married and left home. Your post makes me want to reread it! Best wishes to you and your daughter.


  3. This was one of my favorite books too, and I still have my mother’s copy. Like Candid, I feel inspired to re-read it now! I love your daughters artwork. I am sorry about her diagnoses.


  4. Best wishes for your daughter and you. My now 19 year old was diagnosed at 27 months, and I can tell you unequivocally, things *will* be fine.

    And I love the story premise!


  5. What a visually beautiful post, Claire. Your daughter’s drawings are magical. I love the colors in the Secret Garden by night especially. I didn’t think about how depressing the beginning might be but I’m so glad you had a chance to enjoy the story together with your little girl. My thoughts have been with you both this week. It’s good to see positive things coming from this experience for you.

    I signed up to follow you by e-mail and I added a button so you can do the same with my blog if you wish. (((Hugs!))))


  6. The Secret Garden was also one of my favorite books as a child and the idea of a secret garden has captured my imagination ever since. What a perfect book for a child dealing with illness too! It’s amazing – the healing powers of both books and gardens. Your daughter’s drawings are vibrant – I see talent and a unique style emerging!


    • Thanks Carol, it was the perfect book to take with us and I love how she didn’t wait for the book to reveal the garden but jumped right in and created her own, she created about 40 digital artworks while in hospital and each one tells a story of that journey, thank you for commenting.


  7. I love to read this book in the late winter, when it feels as though winter will never end. It does start rather gloomy, but then hope emerges. Your daughter’s pictures are glorious. I will be praying for the both of you…


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