One of my all-time favorite books (after the Bible), is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This story enlivens my spirit in the winter, awakening my soul to the gloriousness of the coming spring. While it may be possible for one to create a garden hidden away from others behind walls of brick, wood, or stone; it may be more possible to find your secret garden wherever you go.
Secret gardens may not be merely rooms of the landscape, but also deeply hidden recesses in the garden of your own heart. You may find the secret garden when you stumble out of the woods and find the breath-taking view of a forest glade or lake; you may see it in the future life of a nest of northern cardinal eggs; you may even see it coming alive from within when reading a good book.
Your own secret garden does not have to have walls around it; it may be a screen of planted willow branches, a stand of Leyland cypress, or a border of tall delphiniums. All gardeners create their own secret gardens around them; only they know what is truly going on in the garden. Who but the gardener knows about the special clematis blooming behind the arborvitaes? Who but the gardener knows that there are robin eggs in a nest in the crabapple and cardinal eggs in the nest in the apricot? Who but the gardener knows the purest sounds of the fountain playing over the rocks?
Sometimes, after reading such a book, you may find your own meaning in the clean-up of a long-forgotten garden. I did when on a warm winter day I found myself viewing what once was my grandmother’s garden, where I got much of my interest in gardening. I took it upon myself and my pruners to clean-up as best I could–cutting away weed trees, pulling out bits of grass and weeds, and pruning the dead from the old roses and tree peonies. Even though no one lives there now, my grandmother’s garden lives on in secret.
So let us look deep within ourselves, to find the secret garden. We gardeners alone can find it, and if possible, find someone to share it with. Give the gift of gardening to the elderly, to the young, to your spouse, so they too can truly enjoy the secret of gardening.