Hello, all. I wonder — would you sit for a moment, and join us for a cup of tea? Perhaps, while we sip, we might talk a bit about a book called The Secret Garden.


Do you know it? Well, even if you haven’t read it, we shall tell you a bit about it. And, of course, we shall share our favorite quotes. (All illustrations, by the by, were crafted by Mr. Charles Robinson.)

The Secret Garden is a story about young Mary Lennox, who is sent to England from India after her parents’ deaths. She goes to live with her mysterious uncle, and with her “sick” cousin Colin. She’s a very sour, disagreeable child; but the discovery of — you guessed it — a “secret garden,” as well as the friendship of a boy named Dickon, begins to lighten her dark spirit.


Now, we shan’t tell you all the secrets of the garden, in the case that you haven’t yet read about it. We only mean to paint you a portrait of it.

The book was written by renowned children’s author Frances Hodgson Burnett, who is said to be the “most American of the British writers” — while Henry James, conversely, is the “most British of the American writers.” (So observed by Jill Muller, who wrote the introduction to the Barnes & Noble edition of The Secret Garden.)


Of course, we have perhaps the most famous lines in the book, spoken by young Basil when Mary won’t let him build a pretend garden with her. She’s just come from India, and from the tragedy of her parents’ demise; and she’s even more sour than usual. (But it’s a lovely bit of foreshadowing, we think, as she builds that pretend garden — a secret longing for a secret garden!)

Basil says:

“Mistress Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And marigolds all in a row.”



One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever.


At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done — then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.



They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it in the months that followed — the wonderful months — the radiant months — the amazing ones. Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there.

And, a bit more humorous addition pertaining to the “Magic,” as spoken by Colin, and instigated by gardener Ben Weatherstaff’s example of “magic words” — or, rather, when Jem Fettleworth’s wife calls her husband a “drunken brute.”

“Well,” he said, “you see something did come of it. She used the wrong Magic until she made him beat her. If she’d used the right Magic and said something nice perhaps he wouldn’t have got as drunk as a lord and perhaps — perhaps he might have bought her a new bonnet.”



One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts — just mere thoughts — are as powerful as electric batteries — as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body.

Hence . . .

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”


And, if we may say so — the 1993 movie version of The Secret Garden was quite splendid, with Kate Maberly as Mary, and Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock. It’s a lovely and artistic depiction of a wondrous book; and viewing it is adamantly recommended.

1993 Movie Poster.

12 thoughts on “Tea in THE SECRET GARDEN.

  1. I was not familiar with the movie so I researched it a bit on IMDB and indeed the film appears to be well thought of and sounds delightful. Thinking of a sickly child being able to see a rehabbed garden that has come to life must indeed lead to rehab the child to “life” to a similar extent. Kate and Maggie sound like they did their characters proud. I’ll try to see this one day. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went through a phase in which I alternated watching this movie & The Little Princess over & over. I got the books for my daughter so we could read them together. I feel like they’re kind of the American girl’s fantasy for a British upbringing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re quite right in that. I myself have a two-sided DVD I got at Wal-Mart for five bucks, with THE SECRET GARDEN on one side, and A LITTLE PRINCESS on the other. Makes for good entertainment when I need a picker-upper.

      Liked by 1 person

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