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.
Love it! My roller boots had pink wheels- I was very proud of them, and would not have been seen dead with a backpack, especially on two shoulders!
The Secret Garden is a really lovely book but I didn’t read it until I was in my 20’s! I think I became interested in gardens because of The Tales of Beatrix Potter. Even now, as much as I deter them, I can’t be mad when I see a rabbit trying to munch on my veg!
My roller boots were white with red wheels and a blue stopper. I was in love with them.
I agree, what a fantastic book. I really didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have upon reading it when I was younger, but really love it now that I am older. There is something magical about a walled garden for sure :)
My roller boots had pink wheels as well! Such a better way to get around lol
I love the fact that books have the power to fuel the imagination. I read voraciously as a child (still do!) and this was the one which inspired my love of magical secret places. Sadly, today you’re more likely to come across children talking about tv programmes or videos than a book that excites them – they don’t know what they’re missing!
I loved this book as a child and found a beautifully illustrated version not long ago which my nine year old daughter adores. I bought it intending us to read it together at bedtimes but within a few days she was so engrossed I didn’t get a look in! Our copy is illustrated by Inga Moore and published by Walker Books, highly recommended as a book to treasure.
Oh, yes, it’s a lovely book and such a great inspiration for young gardeners. :) I haven’t read it to my kids yet, but I really must, especially as they are finally getting interested in gardens for more than just snacking on produce.
Well you’ve made me think now. I’m not sure when I got the bug. However, you have reminded me of my roller ‘skates’ which will probably tell you just how ancient I am! Ho hum
The Secret Garden was it for me too! I love the idea of a secret garden–a hide-out of sorts–where butterflies and bright flowers are abundant and you can almost picture fairies hiding among the greenery.
lol – I could so relate to the rest of the post, too. No backpacks outside of school, rollerskates everywhere (except I grew up when rollerblades were the hot thing), the small bag slung diagonally across. Fun times.