Sunday, April 14, 2013

Inspired by Books

Have any of the books you’ve read made you dream of doing something in particular?  Or have you ever been inspired by a book to do something in real life?  I have.

Book cover courtesy of Wikipedia
I can’t remember when I first read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I know I loved it even more than A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy, both of which I’d enjoyed.  It wasn’t so much the story of spoiled Mary and her transformation into a happy, loving little girl that caught my imagination, however, but the garden itself.  The image of a secret garden, enclosed by tall brick walls and covered in trailing roses stuck in my mind.  A creaking iron gate, a pond, an intelligent little robin hopping round the place, gravel paths and a riot of flowers ...  I wanted that garden!  And I still do.

My husband and I recently moved to the countryside and the house we’ve bought has a large garden.  Not a walled one or even one full of flowers – most of the flower beds contained nothing but ugly bushes of one sort or another – but a garden nonetheless.  And now I am determined to transform it into the secret garden of my dreams.

This may take years – in fact, there’s no doubt about that, it will – and I’ll have to do most of the work myself, with a little help from my DH as we can’t afford to get in a garden designer and a team of landscape gardeners.  But I don’t mind because it’s going to be fun.  It’s going to be a challenge.  And I will learn as I go along.

A couple of weeks ago I made a start.  Not on the garden itself, but on the learning part.  I had a lesson in brick-laying.  My daughters thought I’d gone mad, but in order to have a secret garden I need brick walls obviously and I want to build them myself.  Ok, so one lesson probably won’t be enough for me to build an entire wall straight away, but I figured I could start by building raised flower beds at least.  How hard can it be to lay bricks in a rectangle?  (Sort of like Lego, but bigger, right?)  Then I can grow things like vegetables without having to bend over too much for the dreaded weeding.

I really enjoyed the lesson and although I was clumsy and felt like I was the slowest brick-layer in the history of mankind, I managed to build a little wall.  (We were indoors practising, thankfully, as the weather outside was freezing!)  I even managed to do the pointing and I learned to always use a spirit level to lay the bricks evenly.  I can do this!  And I’m even more determined now I’ve tried.

Patience isn’t one of my greatest virtues, but if I start now and build say 5 metres of wall every year for the next 20 years, I might have my secret garden.  And in the meantime, I can create the flowerbeds and paths inside it.  Now doesn’t that sound great?  Oh, and if any of you feel like coming over to help, it might not take quite so long and you can enjoy the tranquillity of my secret garden too :-)


  1. Wow, Christina! What a lovely and inspiring post! I love your 'have a go' approach and wish you every happiness in your new home and garden.

  2. Thanks, Chris! I'll invite you over when it's finished :-)

  3. If the two garden pics are your place, then you've already got a great start to a beautiful garden. I love how you were inspired to have your own walled garden by reading The Secret Garden. I have always loved the idea of a special secluded garden and I must have got that from the same place. It is awesome that you are learning bricklaying so you can build your walls yourself. 20 years from now it's bound to be amazing.

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  5. Thank you Sofie! The bottom picture is not my garden unfortunately - yet - but hopefully one day it will look like that. It will be fun to try to create it anyway! And I'm glad you loved that book too, it's a lovely story.