the secret garden

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“As long as one has a garden, one has a future, and if one has a future, one is alive.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett 

One of my most favorite books as a child and ever is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I read it over and over and saw every movie adaptation. It captured my imagination and how could you not love the idea of this secret garden full of flora and fauna tucked away?

The Secret Garden has touched the imagination of many since it’s 1911 debut.  The actual garden was based upon a garden on a property in Kent, England called Great Maytham Hall.  This book continues to spark imagination today and there is even a musical which is put on here in the US and overseas.  The Broadway show actually won three Tony awards in the 1990s.  The story of a small girl’s search for home and a garden brought back to life.  The garden was locked away and forgotten. 

Maybe on some strange level this garden I now have is my secret garden.  After all, it was a feral garden when I first started with it.  The old lady whose house we bought had grown ill and died.  Her garden went untended except for the barest of maintenance.  Her adult children all had their own lives and it’s not easy to let go of a childhood home.

As I have written before, I unearthed garden beds slowly from under very overgrown conditions.  It was an excavation of sorts, and this summer I found something yet again when I performed another great forsythia massacre and discovered a giant Sambucus elderberry with a trunk as think as a tree trunk.

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Irregular garden bed during transformation

This garden has evolved over quite a few years at this point, and will continue to evolve.  Today I dug out and replanted and extended a garden bed out front.  When we moved in it had a giant buddleia  in it and not much else. It was irregularly shaped, neither circular or oval exactly. I had removed the buddleia when it died and planted a David Austin Rose and a bit of sedum, lilies of the valley and Stella D’Oro daylilies.  It always bugged me but nothing inspired me until yesterday. 

Yesterday I picked up two bedragged sale hydrangeas on a whim at Home Depot. I knew they needed just some water and a home. But when I first came home with them I couldn’t figure out where to plant them.  Then I did what I always do when I am pondering a garden bed, I look out of upstairs windows down at the garden.  And it came to me: the small irregularly shaped bed out front would get a makeover.

So this morning in the rain, I pulled the bed apart and dug up everything except the rose which I decided would still anchor the center of the bed. I dug out all around the existing bed until I had a true circle.  Then I dug up the grass, dug down and turned over the soil, added compost and a giant contractor bag of sand. The soil is either wonderful here or loaded with clay and rocks.  This bed as it turns out was loaded with clay and  as I dug down to turn the soil, I discovered bricks. Lots of bricks.  Enough to edge the finished bed with.

I split the three giant clumps of Stella D’Oro daylilies into six pieces.  First I planted my hydrangeas, then I planted back the daylilies.  After that I added two small hostas and a pair of foxglove plants that had been languishing on the porch. Then I planted my lavender plants from Mount Airy Lavender   and a pair of Heuchera that had also been biding their time on the porch waiting for inspiration. Then I added woodchips and edged and voila! 

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“After” Taa daa!!!

I think it looks pretty good if I do say so myself!! 

My garden will continue to evolve and become more refined.  But it was today while digging in the dirt that I thought of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I encourage all of you to create your own secret garden.  Create a place to love and cherish. Gardening is such a happy thing.

I will close with some current flower power photos. Thanks for stopping by!

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