Memory Mondays: The Secret in my Garden

by Jessica on April 17, 2011

~There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some that face reality; and then there are those that turn one into the other.~

When I was in the fourth grade I entered a bookmark design contest and won first prize. I had my picture taken for the local newspaper and my winning bookmark was framed and hung in the library. Big stuff for a nine year old. Best of all there was a glorious prize; a special edition copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I could tell from the moment the book touched my hands that it would be special. The heavy bound leather and gold edged paper begged for me to peel open the crisp pages and savor every word.

I was immersed in the story of Mary, a forgotten orphan, who discovered a neglected and forbidden walled English garden at the center of the huge Misselthwaite Manor. Through love and determination Mary and her friend Dickon bring new life to the garden and healing to the inhabitants of Missethwaite Manor.

That was the beginning of my love affair with all things English. I daydreamed over the romance of the sprawling English manor and was fascinated by the proper English custom of afternoon tea. But my greatest new love was the walled English garden. Ivy covered stone walls, fancifully shaped hedges, tinkling fountains and roses. I began doodling plans for my very own walled English garden where I could live out my very own Secret Garden fantasy.



In addition to the reality of being a very busy momma to four very busy boys, there are other realities that make my English rose garden fantasy unrealistic. I am not, nor will I ever be an heiress. I do not own a lovely English manor and despite having a father who tends to gardens for a living, I am a plant killer.

When reality and fantasy don’t meld, it’s high time for a compromise.

Meet my compromise.

It is a tiny rose garden, but it is right outside my bedroom window and smells divine. Despite the fact that I do not water regularly and I am flummoxed by fertilizer, it still blooms with passion. It turns out that walled English garden is not really me. Too neat and tidy. Too predictable. I’m more of a wild and free, plant it and hope for the best kinda ‘girl.

A certain amount of compromise is necessary for a traveling family, as well. I have a friend who just returned from a trip from merry old England. She treated herself to fanciful four hour meals and leisurely strolls down historic streets, with a quick pop into any little store that suited her fancy. It sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

By contrast, our recent trip to England was three kids in tow, chasing them up and down castle stairs, popping into every other bathroom, and grabbing quick fast food meals between sightseeing. Seems like an unappetizing compromise by some travelers standards. But, it turns out that I am not a leisurely strolling, culinary delight kind of traveler. I’m more of a wiping sticky faces, chasing pigeons, holding little hands kind of traveler. As I am not keen to give up either the children or the traveling, this will be my reality for some time. The little nine year old who fantasized about great English gardens and proper English tea would be surprised at the reality, no doubt.

That’s why I am glad to have my roses. They remind me of a love of England that has blossomed since childhood, and they remind me that turning reality into something beautiful leads us to a life that suits us best after all.

Read about our trip to England from start to finish.

The Elusive Canterbury

~See what other travelers are dreaming about at The Mother of All Trips~


Mara from Motherofalltrips April 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Laughing! I only have two boys and our travel is definitely faster paced, noisier, and dirtier than it was before.

I didn't realize you had been to England too – I need to go back and read all your posts. We were there last July for two weeks. I managed to sneak my garden strolls into our visit to Oxford (which I haven't yet written about in full). That was a place to satisfy the most Anglophilic of parents while giving kids room to roam too!

Mara from Motherofalltrips April 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Just to let you know, the link to Bodium Castle goes to the Tower Post…

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: