Generations of girls have loved this book.  As a child in the suburbs of St. Louis, I could not imagine such a place as it presented: old walls and secrets and lost spaces that had been forgotten.  Unused rooms in a house. Romantic like a heath would be, or a cliff, or a moor,  or the ocean (any one of them) for that matter.  Anything other than poured cement streets and little measured squares, one house per.


The aesthetic of Frances  Hodgson  Burnett‘s book, The Secret Garden,  is called back in old movies, black and white.  Jane Eyre, Heathcliff, you know.  Making woodcuts outside in the movie “Enchanted Cottage”.

Advanced now in finding waste for building (today is broken brick day), when I first bought this acreage, it was beyond me to construct a walled secret garden.  So I planted bushes for walls.

Much different now than it was when first planted, you have to live long enough to appreciate it.


I planted four Nellie Stevens holly bushes,  two on each side of the gate entry, on both the pool side and the garden side.  They were planted too close so their spreads come together and a tunnel could be made.


You can see in the picture above that I let the garden side hollies grow up before letting the pool side ones.  Used to trim them into cubes.  In the future when all four are the same height, I hope to trim all four tops into one cone.


I do have walls around my secret garden, but they don’t contain it.


1-secret garden 4

On a little relief of grass sits a cement bench featuring an edge made of pieces of plates.  My pink oleander is straining for the sun these days.  Changes will have to come.  Ornamental grasses circle its base.


A mound of azaleas on the right and elaeagnus, the only one in the area that I trim to this extent,  lead into the garden.  During September and October, the fragrance of the elaeagnus  is dazzling.  My mother called this “Russian olive” and it was in her garden.  Don’t remember it being as fragrant as it is here.

The white tile path has to be moved this winter as the bushes are overtaking it.  Always move the path, never the bushes!


A line of red barberry interfaces another of holly, and they are the walls for the secret garden.  At the top of the picture are the Nellie Stevens hollies.