Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Secret Garden

At first people refuse to believe
that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to hope it can be done,
then they see it can be done ~
then it is done and all the world
wonders why it was not done
centuries ago.
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett,
The Secret Garden

Have you ever longed 
for a secret garden?  

A place where you could
just sit and be
or read a book
or pen notes in a journal
or sip tea or perhaps
a glass of wine?

I did.

When we moved to Minnesota
from Chicago ten years ago,
it was February and our new
yard was sleeping under one 
of the heaviest snowfalls of 
the decade.

I knew that the previous owners
had kept a vegetable garden, but
it wasn't until the snows melted
that I really saw it.

16 feet by 24 feet.
White picket fence.
Pitter patter went my heart.

In my mind's eye I saw a 
neatly laid out garden with flowers,
herbs and veggies.  My daughter,
nearly six at the time, would have 
a corner for a tiny fairy garden 
and  I would teach my son, then  
two, how to plant a seed and 
watch it grow.....

Hold on.

The wild weeds

What my mind's eye didn't see was


no water source near the garden

a daughter who didn't see weeding
this wild patch as fun, even with the
bribe of little tiny plants and little tiny
furniture for the little tiny fairies we
were going to lure to this jungle ~

working around a two-year old's
nap schedule

wild woods and marsh that border
the picket fence and would wage a
war against this plot of earth that I
didn't have the energy to win

did I mention the mosquitoes?

The wild woods

In an attempt to support my dream
of a secret garden, my sweet hubby
arranged to extend our irrigation 
system to this outback, er, 
distant, corner of the yard.  

That's as far as it went.

Oh, I gave it the good college try
a few times over the years.  But the
indigenous flora {weeds} and the
native fauna, aka rabbits, deer and
{did I mention} mosquitoes, kept
the whole operation very elusive.

Until this year.

I met my own garden fairy.

Her name is Sandi and she started
helping me tame my overgrown yard
 last summer.  Last fall I mentioned the 
secret garden of my imagination and her 
eyes lit up. We agreed to ponder the
idea over the winter and touch bases 
come early spring.

We touched bases.
We made a plan.
She brought in reinforcements.
She turned a dream into a reality.

Think cutting garden.

Think raised beds, bordered
by salvaged flagstone.

Think cocoa mulch.

Think re-purposing the kid's playhouse
and moving it into the secret garden.

Think Craigslist $20 table and 
flea market mismatched chairs.

Think iron candle chandelier!

Think mix of annuals and perennials.
Think daisies, zinnias, cosmos and
more well into October....

Think happy, happy me!

This was the fledgling year,
but the perennials seemed to
thrive and the annuals were quite

I am planning to give the table
the Annie Sloane paint treatment
over the winter and I want to
find a cute bench to go with it, in
 addition to my mixed up chairs.

Every time I pull into our drive 
and see my secret garden off in the  
distance, flowers nodding over
the fence, practically calling me
to come make bouquets,
I have to smile.

I guess it's not really a secret
garden, anymore.  I loved sharing
it with you, all the same!

What secret projects are you
holding close to your heart?
Let's grab our warm drinks and 
head out to the table for a good 
natter, as my English friends 
would say!

I'll even let you have my 
favorite blue chair : )



Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Oh Suzanne, I want to visit your secret garden and tea with you there! How lovely! So happy for you that this dream has finally come to fruition!

Teacup Moments said...

suzanne, that garden is just fantastic! the kid's playhouse looks so darling and perfect in that spot! i love the story behind this and congratulate you for making that little dream come true. there's a public garden nearby that i imagine to be my secret garden. so lucky you have your very own.

Jenny Schouten Short said...

How fun and lots of hard work. I think it was worth it for you. I'll come have some tea in your garden! xo Jenny

Marie said...

What a fabulous project Suzanne! I am glad that you were able to create the garden of your dreams. I love your blue chair! I love it all! xxoo

Kathysue said...

Oh how exciting, there is nothing better than to see a dream come true!!! Enjoy your time there as long as you can and look forward to all your Spring blooms. I love your special space, Kathysue

Susan T said...

I always love your posts Suzanne. this one is enchanting. A secret garden just for you, filled with the things you love, and there for you when you need a space to relax and unwind, brilliant. Every year I have such plans for our garden, we have lived here 19 years next year, and every year is the same "perhaps next year" I think. I will send you a link to a blog you may find inspiring.xx

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

There is ALWAYS HOPE for an earthly paradise when we work with GOOD FRIENDS to make our dreams a reality. At the moment, a dear friend from Edina is going to help me find some local galleries to promote my work. A fine "gardener" indeed of sowing seeds of great friendship, sisterhood and dream-weaving....what a FABULOUS GARDEN YOU HAVE MY FRIEND! OH how I missed out on that day I got lost in the SNOW and ended up with a crashed mirror! teeeheee


Cindy said...

your garden and your images are the little house and the table and chairs. i would paint the bottom of the table and leave the top as a weathered gray. when it gets weathered to your satisfaction, hit it with a coat of polyurathane....i think it would be stunning...

and i am with you on the mosquitoes.....hate them!!!

hugs, cindy

Stuff and Nonsense said...

i am always drawn
to fenced in places

especially when they are filled
with alluring flowers
in every shade of lovely

and your secret garden
is truly special and
i'm so glad your shared it
with us


Days at Buttermilk Cottage said...

Wow, what a lovely spot you've made for yourself. No job is too big with a little help from friends, is it? I'm very fortunate to have a lovely garden just outside by sewing room window, created by my sister, the gardener! I do enjoy it so!

Anonymous said...

I would love to have tea with you in your garden! It sounds heavenly back there. I would take the ugliest house on the block if it had a secret garden hidden behind a white picket fence. :)
I'm still dreaming of turning my little forlorn 'garage' into my hideaway potting shed where I can grow flowers and veggies all year, with shelves of beautiful old pots and plants hanging from all the rafters. 10 years and I'm still working on it!
Enjoy your beautiful garden!

Anonymous said...

Your garden is so charming. Your writings always stoke my inner desires & dreams. I use to have a fenced in herb garden in the 80's. My "Martha years". The children have grown, so we dismantled it to give way to a fenced in pool/patio area. The last couple of years our vegetable garden has not been that bountiful. It is at the back of our acre lot. I can relate to the deer/critter issues. Love your table and mismatched chairs. You have once again stoked my dreams to relocate my old fashion laundry line and build a small outbuilding. I need a new place to play. Thanks for letting me sit awhile in the blue chair this morning. Suzanne, you have such a blessed life.

Elizabeth said...


This is such a special little place, I love the little house, the table and the mismatched chairs. How lucky to have a friend to help reclaim your space from the critters. I am looking forward to seeing all of your wonderful additions in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend, Elizabeth

cityfarmer said...

I think ... you've got your garden on ...

I would stay and stay and stay ...

miss you like crazy

Tricia @ A Rosy Note said...

You may have mosquitoes, flora and fauna, but you also have the most dreamy little garden! It's so enchanting with the picket fence, placehouse, and chandelier. Oh, I'd love to have such a space! Just beautiful, Suzanne :)

A Vintage Chic said...

Oh, how wonderful, Suzanne! You've inspired me--yet again!

I have had dreams of a secret garden as well....could you please send your garden fairy MY way?! I haven't given up dreams HAVE been napping, though! Think I'll have to wake them up this winter and dream of spring plans...

Wishing you the most wonderful weekend in your not-so-secret garden, dear friend!


Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig said...

I certainly could use a garden fairy such as yours. What a glorious transformation!

Hugs and Love,

pollydove said...

Ooooohhhhh I love this little garden!!! I have a pretty big back yard too and I have actually envisioned something very similar - stone paths to different sections of my yard. Maybe a cutting garden, a vegetable garden, a pretty sitting area lined with boxwood bushes ... sadly, I haven't had the time or resources to do it, but maybe some day (like you) a little angel friend will come and want to help me plan and prepare. But, lucky you! How wonderful ... it really is so sweet!

Farmgirl Paints said...

YAY!!! You got it done. Can't believe I've been in that secret garden. It's a special spot indeed. Love the chandie in the tree. I'm wanting to try out that Chalk paint. I've got a project. Let me know how it works for you:)

Linda said...

So lovely, Suzanne! I so understand this longing for a special secret garden...yours is SO charming...I hope to visit it one day soon! So enjoyed our time together yesterday, my friend! XO

Sharon Lovejoy said...

ABSOLUTELY DARLING. Of course I love it and it IS your dream come true. So happy for you...oh, and guess what? YOU WON The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life. Congratulations Suzanne. The publisher will mail it to you next week.

I know you will love all the intimate glimpses of our favorite female writers...I so love L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and many others. Let me know how you like it.

Love and happy weekend,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Beach House Living said...

I would smile too every time I pulled into the drive. It's such a special place. Mosquitoes? I know them well. We have out of control English ivy here. Some thing it's charming but it just strangles everything in it's path including wood fences and mosquitoes seem to love to breed in it!

Linda in AZ * said...

*** It's turning out to be sooooo lovely and welcoming, Suzanne!!! What FUN to be doing this with a special & talented friend, too!!! The results are inspirational...

* Annnnd, of all the blogs I read, it couldn't be happening for a nicer gal!!! This is something you're doing, with a nice friend no less, that is reallllly "YOU"!

Enjoy!!! (This is ONE dream I have, but of course will have to remain a dream because we live in the AZ desert... Good n' happy thought for me tho, is that is HAS started cooling off and now MY "gardening season" IS almost here! Yippee!!!


Linda in AZ *

Lili said...

Oh Suzanne I am jumping for joy for you!! That is one gorgeous transformation. I adore that sweet little white picket fence. And I wanna make up pretty autumn flower bouquets with you too! Please please show us more when you can. It's gorgeous! xoxo ~Lili

LuLu said...

All the work was definitely worth it! it's lovely!!!! What a special place! I'm so glad you shared your secert garden with us! i wish i had one!
the table will look amazing with the paint treatment!!
have a wonderful weekend,

Kathy's Red Door Welcome said...

How lovely to see your dreams come true. I love your secret garden!

Hindsfeet said...

*wonderfully* inspirational!!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

So cool! I love this post, the photographs, the concept & you flea market finds! You know I'm an avid gardener - I brought our garden in Colorado to life, so I totally get the satisfaction it brings. Oh, happy day! Sounds like a soul-filling project :)

Biz said...

My secret project right now is the idea of finally getting Bitsy's nursery together.
That project is on hold until we get our on base housing and even then it'll be limited by what I can do to a room in a house that I don't own.
But it's still a dream right now!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

What a wonderful and enchanting secret garden you have created. I had one in the last house I lived in and absolutely loved it. I adore your table with the delightful chairs. They seem to add that special magical touch. Please never replace those chairs, they are perfect.
Right now my secret garden is to redo my little home office. I have been trying to get to it for a couple of years but something else always comes up. Hopefully this winter I will be inspired.
I love your garden and I imagine it's quite magical in the fall, as well. Perfect for meditation and your beautiful writing. XO

A Cottage Muse said...

What a special place ~ so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this secret! I would love to be able to join you at that table someday!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

How wonderful! I know that you are enjoying this space sooo much. I love gardening and just being outside, but those darn mosquitoes...what secret do you have to deal with them?

T's Daily Treasures said...

I think that it is a wonderful thing that your dream is finally coming to fruition with the help of a friend. I have two balconies and would love to see them really turned in to beautiful outdoor spaces for the short few months of cooler weather that we will have at the end of the year. I would be happy to see weeds grown any time of the year around here -- just to have green growth out my window. Hope your weekend is wonderful. Best wishes, Tammy P.S. Love that aqua chair :)

quintessence said...

Looks wonderful!! I know you're going to enjoy your new very special if not secret garden!!

michele said...

oooohhhhhhh it's chaaaaaaarrrrmmming. the fairies are there for sure. i have a secret wish for just a little private spot where the neighbors can't see how much chocolate i'm devouring or how much time i spend reading. we'll have it someday but not before we work more magic on the inside.

lovely lovely images, and you can't even see the mosquitoes!


Morning T said...

Ooh la la Suzanne it is absolutely dreamy! I can picture tea light candles burning and friends visiting into the late hours of the evening, sipping on wine of course. ;)
Happy Monday to you.

Stitchfork said...

Would love to join you at the table by your secret garden -- are the mosquitos gone...I draw them like a magnet!
xo Cathy

bedroom chandeliers said...

yeah, i would love to have a seat at your table too, it looks amazing! glad to see you got your secret garden. well done

Tabby Large said...

Lovely post Suzanne. I enjoyed your sense of poetry on your post. Congratulations!

Doll Kids said...

Congrats on your dream and I really enjoyed reading your blog!Keep up the great work!