My Secret Garden

The Secret Garden (goodreads link) is a children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett about an orphaned girl who discovers a locked abandoned garden on her uncle’s British estate. First published in 1911, it has been made into a movie numerous times, most recently in 2020 with Colin Firth in a cameo role as the uncle. As I enjoyed re-reading Anne of Green Gables so much I’m adding this one to my To Read list, and the movie also, as I’ve heard the cinematography is stunning, especially as there won’t be any garden tours again this summer.

After five months in lock-down we are slowly and cautiously reopening, with ten people allowed for an outdoor gathering in stage one, and the rest of the stages contingent on receiving second doses earlier than our scheduled 16 weeks apart. Although they are trying to speed things up, only 17% of the population have received two doses so far, and with the shot being only 30% effective against the Delta variant after one dose, I think my garden will be remaining secret for awhile longer. It’s a shame not to be able to share all the loveliness, so please join me for a tour of what’s new and what grew.

The weather has been weird and wacky all spring, an unseasonable hot spell the first of April, followed by a cold month, then hot and humid again in May, then cold with frost warnings at night, then hot and humid again and despite thunderclouds no rain for two weeks….and all this by mid-June! Most things in the garden bloomed earlier than usual and have already come and gone, (see Wordless Wednesday Peonies) or are past their peak. The roses (see Wordless Wednesday Roses blog) have become blowzy and even with succession planting I’m wondering what there will be left to look now that summer has officially arrived. Wilted hydrangeas perhaps?

Lots of flower buds on the ones which didn’t get tinged by frost.

Morning glories and zinnias if they survive the heat and the weed-wacker?

I liked the pink centres and they’re already up an inch along the back fence.

My lily of the valley, seen here peeking out from around the Dipladenia plant, was just starting to bloom but after being hit by frost the delicate little flowers turned brown overnight.

The daisies were particularly abundant this year and early as they are usually July flowers.

My regular Common Lilac bushes were duds flower-wise again this year, although they have lots of foliage. I was disappointed in these Bloom Again Lilacs too which I bought two years ago. The flowers are small and the bush spindly, without much greenery. They smell nice but I would not plant these again, as I do not like wimpy bushes. I like things which make a statement!

Prep Work: For me the fun is in the planning and buying, not the watering (I try) and weeding (I don’t). Whereas last year my entire garden expenditure was $8 (two tomato plants and some lettuce), this year I shopped, even if the selection was poor due to the yo-yo spring and the rationing by suppliers, the result of a lack of seasonal migrant workers due to COVID so one nursery owner informed me. I bought (but wisely) as I figured if I’m stuck at home I want pretty…….preferably in pink!

Vinca and begonias waiting to be planted. The planter box is painted in Molokai Blue.

Nice hanging baskets were scarce and expensive so I did my own pots using vinca instead of my usual geraniums and petunias. I’ve never bought vinca before but it’s heat tolerant and looked bright and cheerful. Plus at $4 a pot and two per basket, it’s a cheap alternative if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. (I’ve found those vinyl pandemic gloves very useful for gardening – just throw them away.)

I put some in my ceramic planter, where I would normally have wave petunias, also in short supply this year.

They’ve already spread out so much I probably could have just planted one per container.

The navy ceramic planter came with a couple of matching pails which I couldn’t pass up. Winners/Homesense had a whole gardening line of the same pattern but the thing about that discount store is if you see something buy it, as if you go home and think about it it’s always gone when you go back.

A floral pail can be a beautiful thing!

Seeing this colorful pot of pink vinca from my kitchen window every morning is a nice way to greet the day.

The mosaic bistro table was another Homesense find.

The Subject was Roses: I had to replace one dead Knock-Out Rose from last year when I couldn’t find any stock and I transplanted three others with too much dead wood, so four pink Double Knock-outs went on my list. At $25 per pot these are worth it as they are repeat bloomers and provide beauty all summer. The double pink can be hard to find although there are always plenty of red ones. The ones I moved are doing poorly from transplant shock as they had been in for ten years so I’m not sure if they will survive. (For more on Knock-outs’ check last years post – link) I wish Knock-outs had a climbing rose, but they don’t and the nurseries were all sold out of climbers. I finally located some “John Davis” ones at a pop-up nursery at $8 per pot so bought three for in front of some bare trellis. They’re small and not quite the color I wanted but the other choice was a clematis and I wasn’t happy with that selection either, although I did buy one “The First Lady” a pale lavender, also $8. One upscale nursery had Clematis for $49 per pot! The prices have really skyrocketed this year, (supply and demand), things sold out early and it’s even hard to find bags of garden soil.

The plant in the blue pot above is an Italian Bugloss, a hardy perennial which can grow to four feet, so I planted it in front of a trellis. It likes sun and attracts butterflies. It appealed to me in the nursery because of it’s bright gentian-blue color (I’m partial to blue – see The Blue Garden) so I overlooked the fact that even at $16 it appeared scraggly and half dead from lack of watering. I try and add something new every year, even if it’s something I’ve never heard of. Later I saw it on a list of easy to grow no-maintenance perennial favorites in a gardening magazine.

I’ve discovered the name of this blue plant from last year which I did not remember buying but might have been from the annual horticultural sale. It’s a Virginia Bluebell and bloomed well this year too. It likes shade and blooms in late spring.

I bought two Lavender plants ($4 each) as you can never have too much lavender, although these were an organic Blue lavender instead of my regular English type. I planted one in front of a hole under the deck hoping the smell might deter the mice and/or other creatures from establishing an empire underneath, the other went in a blue pot until I can figure out where to plant it, probably to replace something which will inevitably die.

I had good luck with Dipladenias two years ago so I bought three pink ones ($7 each) for my pink recycled plastic pots. I’m always up for a bargain especially with annuals. They’re similar to a Mandevilla, are drought resistant and repeat bloomers, and give the the deck that tropical feel, like you might be on vacation somewhere exotic instead of stuck at home. They come in red and white too.

The lavender is blooming already too.

The Russian sage/lavender/pink knock outs make a nice contrasting mix.

Of course one cannot live on flowers alone, so the vegetable garden went in early too and seems to be thriving….four kinds of lettuce, some from seed and some seedlings, carrots, cucumber and pole beans, plus the everbearing strawberry plants if the birds don’t get them first.

Already harvested and sharing the bounty with neighbours.

And for the first time I planted brussel sprouts as they are supposed to be good for you.

Wish List: for when the end of July nursery sales come on, I’m looking for a rhododendron although they are hard to grow here. I tend to scoop up my perennials on the bargain table.

What I’m Reading: My (virtual) library bookclub is currently reading The Last Garden in England, (link) a three generational story about restoring a historic British garden. A light fluffy read if you’re a garden fan, although the garden was incidental to the story and I don’t think there will be much to discuss.

And last but not least, a study in pink, one of mom’s paintings.

What are you planting this year?

24 thoughts on “My Secret Garden

  1. Anne says:

    Thank you for showing off parts of your ‘secret garden’. I really enjoyed the novel and wouldn’t mind reading it again. It is winter here and we are still being plagued by drought. Nonetheless, I am paying attention to a tiny patch of ground next to where I breakfast and watch birds in the mornings and in it I have planted an array of petunias and pansies, augmented with calendulas and phlox. They cannot be watered every day because we only have water every second day and tend to wilt in this unseasonably warm weather. Some are still to bloom and I am hoping they will bush out a little more once they do 🙂


  2. Dave says:

    We saw “The Secret Garden” on stage years ago (never read the book), in the round where the performers worked the aisles as well. I don’t remember the whole story but it was a delightful production. Love “Molokai Blue” – both the name and the color on the box. Finally, my favorites (as I expect many comments to include favorites) are the Virginia Bluebells. Such an elegant bloom and tranquil color. I hope they last a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      A stage production sounds interesting……I barely remember the book but am sure it will come back to me. I liked that color too, but can’t remember if it was a Sherwin-Williams color or Benjamin Moore. It’s been discontinued but I have a bit left I could color match. And the bluebells yes – my favs too. I wish I could remember where I bought them, but they were a delightful surprise when they bloomed last year.


  3. Jo Shafer says:

    Ah, secret gardens . . . I think my whole back yard is a secret place as it’s not readily seen from the front street, only a narrow view through the garden gate arbor. But narrow view promises colorful delights. The courtyard down the lane and round the corner where I can feel secluded. Safe. Only Hubby and doggy can find me — reading, of course. Not garden themed books this summer but beach novels with a historical fiction twist. One after another. I lose track.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Schaub says:

    I never saw or read “The Secret Garden” – where have I been? I do love your garden and it would be a pleasure to step into the backyard. I stepped into the backyard Monday morning and had an opossum staring at me like *I* was the intruder in the yard. Not a nice encounter. I like Vinca better than Impatiens as it does not get leggy and seemed to be more compact. I switched to using it more than Impatiens when I still had the garden out back. This is the first year my “Miss Kim” Korean Lilac bush bloomed … I planted it in the early 90s I believe. Hmm. I like your mom’s painting – pinky tones like you like in the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Linda…..I could not handle an opposum staring at me – I think they are the ugliest things ever….worse than rats. I have a friend who leaves food out for them and encourages the to visit and then takes pictures to sent me. Drove out to the country today to the fruit stand to buy a flat of strawberries – jam making day tomorrow. I’m happy the drought is over and we don’t have to water but if it gets humid again I can’t go out in that. I’m behind in Reader so I’d better get reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I was startled and then disgusted. If it was smaller maybe … but it was huge. I don’t want that in the yard. I was two days behind and started from the top, not bottom as I usually do. I could “like” but I could not comment without going to the blog site. Sigh. It took longer than expected and I didn’t finish the oldest posts. But going to bed now as I’m hoping for a walk in Elizabeth Park tomorrow before all the rain arrives. It’s a 18-mile roundtrip so have to leave early enough to drive there/back and walk. Then I’ve got a ton of photos to be sorted, so will just be going to my regular park for the next three or four weeks so I can get some organization done in this house. Have fun making the jam tomorrow – lucky getting it done before the extreme heat arrives.

        Liked by 1 person

    • annieasksyou says:

      This is a delightful garden tour—and I’ll look for the movie. If I read the book, I don’t recall. I enjoyed your throwaway line about weeding!

      And it’s always a pleasure to see your mother’s art work.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Joni says:

        I think the movie had mixed reviews as they changed the time period from the Victorian era to 1947 post WW2 and deviated from the book a fair bit, at least from what I read on the reviews? I haven’t seen the movie yet, as it is only on Amazon Prime I think for now? Thanks re mom’s art – I’ll pass it along.


    • Joni says:

      Thanks Arlene! I had a copy out of the library, but the book is popular again because of the movie and I didn’t get around to reading it, so must put my name back on the list. I have a vague idea of the story but I’m sure it will come back to me once I re-read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean says:

    Beautiful. Your garden is glorious. I love the blue pots and the bistro table because they contrast nicely with your flowers. You have a green thumb for sure. I tried to read The Secret Garden as a girl and couldn’t get into it. I remember that my mother read it and liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ruthsoaper says:

    I was listening to a talk radio show the other day and they were discussing the need to reopen the US/Canada boarder. One person suggested that the US should share our extra supply of vaccine with Canada instead of shipping them elsewhere. That made so much sense to me.
    Your gardens are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      That would make sense to me…..but we are doing a bit better here with the vaccine supply now, at least the Moderna brand and they have opened more mass vaccination clinics now to put a big push on to get the second doses in with the increased supply. I suspect it will be open maybe by the end of July?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. J P says:

    I have not read the book but did see an old version of the movie, probably made in the 1940s(?).

    We have window boxes on the front of the house and Marianne fills them with begonias every year. She overbought this year and I planted several of them wherever we could find room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I have the 1993 movie dvd version out of the library but have not had time to watch it yet. My begonias are flourishing after a rocky start…so I would buy them again, but we have had tons of rain….the whole month of July has been a write-off weatherwise with very little sun.


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