The Garden on the Moors

I believe that all great gardens share the mythic qualities that John Hanson Mitchell describes.

The secret garden is a walled garden on the Yorkshire Moors. On a winter’s day a robin leads a lonely Mary to a thick curtain of ivy hiding an ornate, solid locked door. She finds a beautiful heavy key on her midnight wanderings through the manor and heaves the door open into a tunnel of dead thistles and branches. The end of the tunnel opens out into a scene of towering cold stone walls and leafless trees, still black ponds, great archways, stone faces smiling in the quiet and a swing stirring in the wind – the same swing that Mary’s mother and aunt are sitting on in a photo she keeps. She glimpses a speck of green at her feet and pulls away the dead plants smothering it. She gives it room to breathe and feel the sun, and decides that she will bring this garden back to life. She asks her uncle for ‘a bit of earth’ – she can’t tell him which bit as it was locked because the garden was his wife’s and she died falling from the swing. Mary shares her secret with Dickon, the boy who befriends wild creatures, and he shows her that the garden is not dead but ‘wick’ – it is still growing green inside. They turn the soil and throw seeds wildly – ‘blue flowers, pink flowers, yellow flowers, purple flowers, cornflowers, foxgloves, any kind we want!’ The ground cover grows green, crocuses push their heads up and butterflies emerge from their chrysalides, bluebells and buttercups make thick carpets, irises and roses unfurl. Dickon and Mary bring her wheelchair-bound cousin, Colin, to see the garden in its glory, with gentle foxes and geese following in their wake. They carry him down pergola-covered steps splashed with light, to an opening where the arches now throw down curtains of flowers and only the sun and swirling petals can be seen through them. A dove sits atop the smiling statue, a fawn wanders near, the robin feeds its chicks and there are roses everywhere. Mary and Dickon help Colin learn to walk and use a magic fire dance to summon his father home. When he arrives, the three are out in the garden playing blind man’s bluff and he finds his son walking and laughing in the garden his wife once loved.



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