A “secret” tip to cultivate joy, with beautiful plants, in your garden – Daily News


If you want to inspire children or grandchildren to have their own garden, read them “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett; the protagonist is Mary Lennox, a 10 year old girl. Since its publication in 1911, this book has never sold out, has sold millions of copies worldwide, and has been the subject of three films from its history.

If you’ve read the book – or even if you haven’t yet – and want to know more about what presided over its writing, pick up a copy of “Unearthing the Secret Garden” (Timber Press , 2021) by Marta McDowell. It’s a volume that you will have a hard time letting go of once you take it.

“Le Jardin Secret” is a story of rejuvenation, rehabilitation and refinement of the character of the children and adults around them, all made possible through contact with a garden, gardeners and gardening activities. In an essay called “In the Garden,” written by Burnett and included as a sort of epilogue to McDowell’s book, we read the following: “As long as you have a garden, you have a future; and as long as we have a future we are alive. It’s staying alive that makes life worth living – not just staying on the face of the earth. And it is the expectation of a future that makes the difference between the two states of being.

Here it should be noted that Burnett did not develop her passion for gardening until she was almost 50 years old, and you could say that was when she came to life in the sense the most complete of the term.

  • “Unearthing the Secret Garden” by Marta McDowell. (Courtesy Timber Press)

  • Old Blush China rose (Photo credit: courtesy of Nate Benesi)

  • Evelyn David Austin stood up. (Photo credit: courtesy of Nate Benesi)

  • This is the flower border planted by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of “The Secret Garden”. (Courtesy of “Unearthing the Secret Garden” / Timber Press)

In the end, what is a secret garden anyway? To quote McDowell: “If you’ve ever walked into a garden and felt a thrill of something – gratitude? admiration? – you had your own secret garden moment. Nature and the gardener have conspired to create a place that resonates at the same harmonic frequency as your mind. . . This is an effect that every gardener aspires to.

As I contemplate our transition from roses and camellias to agaves and yuccas, I wonder if such secret garden moments will still be possible.

Here is another point to consider when it comes to creating a secret garden. In the words of Mary Lennox, who opens the door to the secret garden: “It wouldn’t look like a secret garden if it was tidy. As Burnett describes it: “One of the things that made the place strangest and most charming was that climbing roses had run all over the trees and were swinging long tendrils that made light swaying curtains. “

This notion is affirmed by Dickon, the gardener friend of Mary’s neighborhood: “I wouldn’t want it to look all cut and all cut, right?” “

As “The Secret Garden” is a rebirth story, it is a reflection of Burnett’s own life; impoverished as a teenager, she divorced twice, saw a teenage son die of tuberculosis and suffered from various health problems throughout her life due to her hard work in order to maintain a lavish lifestyle; she frequently threw extravagant parties for her many friends and spent the winter in Bermuda.

Born into wealth in England, her family was reduced to poverty after the death of her father. Forced to cross the ocean to live with parents in Knoxville, Tennessee, she became the main breadwinner during her teenage years, made possible by remuneration from a prodigious production of articles and stories for periodicals. and magazines. Starting from scratch, she did not even initially have the means to buy the stationery and stamps needed to prepare and submit her writing for publication. She raised funds by collecting wild fox grapes (Vitis labrusca) and selling them at the local market.

After three decades in America, she returned to England and rented Maytham Hall, an estate in Kent, south-east London, which contained an abandoned garden that would serve as the inspiration for “The Secret Garden”. This garden was essentially a rose garden and roses would become Burnett’s favorite flowers. She frequently wrapped large bunches of them to send to her friends. Her next favorites seem to have been the delphiniums and blue flowers in general, of which she could never get enough. Nine pages of “Unearthing the Secret Garden” are devoted to a list of plants that Burnett cultivated in his gardens in England, Long Island and Bermuda.

I believe it was Burnett’s generosity along with his desire to share his love for plants, traits gardeners are known for, that motivated his hard work ethic in his later years. She liked to entertain in a grand style. Simply put, she needed to keep winning in order to keep sharing at the highest level. At Maytham Hall, she invited all the mothers and children of a neighboring village to spend the day on her estate and visit her rose garden.

When the Kent estate was sold, she moved to Long Island, New York. There she set up an elaborate garden where she wrote “The Secret Garden” and feasted on her many friends, some of whom would stay with her for days on end. Huge shipments of bulbs, flowering plants and ferns regularly came to his door. She would escape to Bermuda every winter because of her dislike of the cold and, I guess, dormant gardens.

At the end of her book, Marta McDowell presents an essay by Keri Wilt, the great-great-granddaughter of Frances Hodgson Burnett. It includes instructions on how to generate enthusiasm in our children not only for gardening, but for any activity that is important to us. “Our family’s love for gardening was not the result of kneeling side by side with the previous generation with their hands in the dirt. It was born from the observation of the happiness that a garden creates. . . My mother never made me work in the garden, but she planted the seed just showing me the joy it brought her.

Tip of the week: Roses seem to have become an afterthought, if not an anomaly, in the gardens of Los Angeles and that’s a shame. Recently, I visited two big box home improvement centers and checked their inventory of roses.

In one of the nurseries there were nothing more than two dozen Flower Carpet roses; in the other nursery there were seven Flower Carpet roses, an Iceberg, and that was it. While Flower Carpet roses make a great flowering ground cover in red, white, apple blossom, or pink, and Iceberg roses give you white flowers most of the year, what happened to the rest of the roses?

Roses get a bad rap due to the misconception that they require constant attention in the areas of pruning, pest control, and fertilization, and that they need water. Yet, as Nate Benesi proved in a waterless garden at the San Gabriel Dam Recreation Center in Irwindale, certain varieties of roses – such as the rose China rose “Old Blush” and the apricot peach “Evelyn”, a beauty of David Austin – can live on only the winter rains, as rare as they have been in recent years.

My own butterfly rose (Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’), whose flowers change color from yellow to rose to mahogany, hardly needs any water and makes a beautiful living fence with individual plants reaching ten feet tall and six feet wide. Established roses of any description are rather drought tolerant, although they will flower more profusely with regular water. Where drip irrigation and a three-inch layer of mulch – which fertilizes and imparts resistance to pests when it turns into humus – are in place, roses are worth it as long as romance is part of it. our lives. But yes, on many types of roses you will have to remove the faded flowers in order to get more of them.

As winter approaches, there should be a selection of bare root roses to choose from at local nurseries. You can also have potted roses delivered to your doorstep through online sellers found on websites such as chambleeroses.com and davidaustinroses.com.

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