Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel The Secret Garden holds a special place in the memories of many Americans, including landscape historian, NYBG instructor, and award-winning author Marta McDowell. She said, “I still remember the thrill of reading about Mary Lennox turning the key of the locked garden for the first time.” In her newest book, Unearthing The Secret Garden: The Plants & Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett, McDowell explores the inspiration behind a garden story that has captivated generations of curious children and adults alike.
The Secret Garden, originally published in 1910, tells a fantastical tale of three children who find their way into a locked garden inside the Misselthwaite Manor. A theme of rejuvenation is woven throughout the story as the characters experience both physical and mental healing within the garden.
Burnett, one of the most popular and prolific writers of her time, was considered an unlikely garden writer, as she did not cultivate a garden of her own until age 50, after many moves, personal tragedy, and illness. It is said that she always saw gardens as a retreat—a place of healing and return to health.
Join McDowell as she discusses Burnett’s life, work, and passion for flower gardening—with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the author’s personal gardens located in England, the United States, and Bermuda.
Lead image © Suzie Gibbons