The Secret Garden

To be loved is to recognise what is close to you. Maybe we spend our lifetime just learning about this. I remember Spike Milligan talking about depression, said one day it just left him. It makes me wonder what occupies the mind. I want ‘The Secret Garden’ in mine.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett has found its way into my psyche many times. I can recall two stories from my life, which remind me of The Secret Garden. The first is a day I recorded in my diary from the 18th of November 2010.

I had one last thing to get at the supermarket; washing- up liquid. I made my way down the aisle and as I got half way down I recognised a girl that was in the cloak making workshop with me. Her brother was beamy eyed and pointing at something. I didn’t take much notice and reached down for the green liquid. Then I thought he said ‘A bird!’ Other adults started to look where he was pointing and acquired the same look of fascination on their faces. I thought to myself, ‘Hmmm, must be on the ceiling or something’. I looked across at a woman but her eyes were just above my head and to the left. I looked up with the green liquid in my hand and there perched on a blue sign with white writing that read ‘Washing-up liquid’, was a robin.

My mouth dropped and I looked at the petrified bird whose eyes were moving. After a while of looking with the other shoppers I informed a worker and brought him to the spot. He first looked at the shelves and then I pointed at the sign. He stared for a while and I suggested a ladder. Then he told me he would get someone. Later on I thought about Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘Secret Garden’.

In The Secret Garden there is a robin that befriends the main character Mary Lennox and shows her the way to the secret garden. Who is to say paradise can’t be found in a Tesco aisle next to the washing up liquid?

My second story recalls a friend’s neighbour . We used to pass his house a lot and it was hard not to notice how neglected and forgotten his garden was. When I asked my friend if anyone live there she said an old man lived there. I couldn’t believe it. From the outside, it looked really run down. She said there was a sad story behind the state of the garden. The old man was a gardener by profession. He and his wife used to keep a beautiful garden, which won prizes in the town. After his wife died, he let the garden die too.

At the side of his garden there were big pink flowers growing by the railing. I remember I took a photo of them. I remember feeling like she hadn’t died. A few years later I passed the house in a car and I saw the old man working in the garden. I was so happy to see this. Maybe one day, his sorrow just left him.

In The Secret Garden, Mary’s uncle is a widower. She is in his care after her parents die. After his wife dies, he shuts her garden away until Mary finds a key to the garden and starts to grow things in it again. It makes me wonder what is our mind and spirit. What is close to us and what will leave us forever?

Lena O’ Connell

Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Daegu, South Korea. She teaches English and is involved with a children’s art group.