If I could pin-point the exact moment in my life when my obsession with walled gardens began it would be here. Well, to be exact about halfway through this book. Probably the bit where Mary forces her way through the old door and finds the overgrown roses.
It all started in my local library. It was a small, mock-Tudor building about a ten minute walk from my house and only open on certain days. During the summer holidays I would go down there with my friend and we would sit hunched over in the children’s section, on chairs that were much too small for us, and read books. Occasionally we would borrow them and take them home. But only if they were really, really good.
You see, we didn’t come to the library on foot. Oh no. Since this was the 80s we absolutely had to go everywhere on our roller boots. And because of this I had no way of transporting books. As anyone who has ever tried to carry anything while on roller boots will testify, it’s almost impossible to carry anything. This is because you need both hands to hold on to the wall at tricky junctions.
I had a very small purse (with my name on, naturally) that would hang diagonally from shoulder to hip but it was only big enough for some sweet money and the front door key. What more did you need? And certainly not big enough for books.
Use a backpack you say? Well that would be the e-a-s-y option but what if some boy from school saw me wearing a backpack (totally reserved for school and not de-rigueur at weekends or during the summer holidays)? Yes I was vain too.
So… the fact that I actually bothered to take my library card to the library and actually borrow a copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett speaks volumes. I had to have it in my reading claw. If only to find out who the heck Dickon was and if he really could speak to the birds?
Yes, this is the point, in my life when I actually became obsessed with walled gardens. And if Frances was still alive I’d shake her by the hand and say a heartfelt thankyou.