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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Secret Garden

contributed by Stephanie Bearce

One of my favorite childhood stories was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I wanted to be Mary so I could roam the halls of an ancient mansion and   run through the misty moors of the English countryside.  Most of all I wanted to discover a rusty old key to a hidden garden.  I loved the idea of having a special little world full of flowers and birds where I could dream, and read, and plan.
But there were no ancient mansions in Council Grove, Kansas and the fields were  full of wheat and not English heather.  I did try looking for a lost key in the hay barn, but all I found an old horse shoe.  And the closest I came to a hidden garden was a blanket under a cedar tree. 

But lo and behold my childhood dreams have been fulfilled by none other than my wonderful parents.  With their incredible gardening skills and my dad's constant watering, their backyard has become an amazing secret garden.

Nestled in the Kansas Flint Hills, my parents have nurtured a magical green space where Koi fish play and fairy houses hide in a rose garden. 

I love to visit and relax next to the bubbling water.  My sisters and I sit in the wicker chairs and flip through magazines, or gossip about old school mates.  My dad always takes me on a tour of the garden so I can see new plantings and admire the current blooms.

Prairie coneflowers wave in the breeze and daisies nod their heads.  Squirrels fight over corn kernels and an occasional deer stops to drink in the pond.  The geraniums and ferns live happily in old kettles and tins, and the play house waits for young visitors.

When my daughter was little she lived in the play house.  She would have slept there if we had let her.  In first grade she wrote an “essay” about her favorite place.  It was, of course, Grandma and Grandpa's garden.

The garden is not just a show place.  It was made for family living.  It hosts BB-Q's, family reunions, and senior high photo shoots.  We love to tease my nieces about the time they played t-ball with Grandma's glass gazing ball.  It has since been replaced with an unbreakable titanium version.

Someday I hope to build my own secret garden where fairies can dance in hollyhock dresses and elves can hide under deep green leaves.  For now I comfort myself with a glowing daylily collection and coreopsis that flirt with the sun.

And I still search for secret gardens.  Sometimes I catch glimpses of them in backyards or on window sills.  Because as Frances Hodgson Burnett said...
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

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