We moved in a new house at the beginning of Spring. We fell in love with this house for the house itself but also because of what I would call “a typical English garden”. Of course, we didn’t know that this garden that seduced us so much was going to become the destination of our Easter holidays and probably of the next long months! I am a city girl who knows nothing about plants but after only a week in my garden, I fell in love with this refuge which offers an incredible break from the madness of events. A wonderful privilege of which I am absolutely aware since if the hazards of our expatriation had not led us to the English countryside, we ourselves would have been locked up in a flat in Paris, like my family and friends.
It is therefore with great humility and modesty that I wish to share with you images of this garden, to escape and perhaps “escape” for the time of this article… I also wanted to take the opportunity to talk to you about the book.
Indeed, The Secret Garden is a great classic of Anglo-American literature, written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The disturbing synchronicity about this novel is that it is the last book I read; I finished it at the time when the confinement was announced in Italy. So ever since we moved into our new home, I’ve been haunted by this book! Troubled to relive the discovery of our “secret garden” myself, with the same emotions as Mary Lennox, the child and heroine of the book.
If you’ve been to England on holiday a few times and have visited some of the historic houses, you probably know that it’s customary to have a garden within the garden. This is a walled garden, a walled garden surrounded by red bricks. And our garden is also surrounded by a red brick wall. It is hidden, it is secret, it is a bubble of nature, a little paradise whose magic worked on me like in the book…
Mary Lennox is an English girl who lived her early years in India where her parents died following a cholera epidemic. (Note the troubling context of this period!). In short, an orphan, Mary is taken in by a sad, absent uncle who lives in a manor house in Yorkshire. Left to herself, she goes to discover the park around the huge mansion and finds the key that opens a secret garden, abandoned for ten years, a garden that will transform her and bring her back to life as she lovingly restores it thanks to her friends: the robin, Dickon and the others?
The novel deals with two essential subjects: the possible rebirth of the body, mind and imagination through the beauty of nature; and the less light-hearted subject of the impact of parental neglect on the emotional development of children. Both topics are very touching to me and are treated with great accuracy. The garden brings a wealth of imagination, inspiration and creativity that saves children who are neglected or unloved. Without being so dramatic, I too think that imagination is the most beautiful resource we can offer to children so that they always have the “magic tool” to get by in life. Knowledge is certainly important, but without imagination it will bring neither solutions nor happiness. It’s for the same reason that I love travelling, music, art, poetry and now my garden ;-).
Positive thinking grows everywhere in the secret garden and it does a lot of good to the children in the novel but also to the reader:
“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”
Beyond the secret garden, in the book, there are the desert landscapes of the Moors (the moors) that I had walked through during my stay in Yorkshire, a scenery that also echoes the desert that I can find here in Hampshire either by the seaside or in parts of the New Forest (do not miss my post about our favourite spots in the New Forest):
A desert that, like Mary Lennox, I didn’t like when I first came here but that I have learned to appreciate as the seasons go by and even more so at this time when not running into anyone has become an obligation. At home, it’s natural, so when I go out, not seeing anyone is just “normal”. Even if I know that nothing is normal at the moment, I can almost pretend it, the time of my daily outing …
Anyway, I suggest you read The Secret Garden, in English if you can. In French, you’ll find it in Folio Junior (Le Jardin Secret). The language is simple and will teach you a lot of flower names in English! I just want to warn you that I didn’t like the last chapter, too fast, too easy, but that doesn’t take anything away from the beauty of the journey offered page after page, within the walls of this secret garden. In the cinema, an adaptation of this great classic by director Marc Munden will be released in August. The images in the trailer are promising, even if the garden seems far too big to me! Ah those Americans!
And within the walls of my garden, I too marvel. A destination of choice, of luck, filled with sunshine in this completely lunar period !! Here is a small tour of our flowers in this early spring… Thanks to all those who helped me on Instagram to identify the flowers I didn’t know. I also put you the translations in English if it’s different from French :
So, today, I feel like Voltaire’s Candide who, after long journeys, ends up cultivating his garden ;-)…
I will continue to observe our flowers and between a few bushes I will make sure to plant some positive thoughts!
Take care! And let’s hope this is all over before the roses bloom!