Tag Archives: the secret garden

mental space from all the madness………

The world is in a state of great upheaval and in my mind, madness, all of which I believe stems from greed and fear.

As I observe the mass movement of people from around the world, I recognise more and more how important the basic and simple elements of life are.      Shelter, clothing, food, community.

The question is, how do we deal with the very real stress and horror that we are constantly bombarded with?

Something I often do is imagine myself as a bird flying above it all.       This simple exercise helps.   It doesn’t change anything but it does give me a deeper understanding of how small we really are…….and in those moments of wonder and peace comes a feeling of hope.


A Bientôt


More from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s – The Secret Garden.

I have been putting together offerings for my daughter Christie’s 40th birthday later this month…and thought the following passage taken from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s – The Secret Garden was perfect.

Of course, it must to be accompanied by magical hummingbirds. 

“One of the Strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. 


One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvellous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising sun – which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. 


One knows it then for a moment or so, and one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness standing through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. 


Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes me sure; and sometimes a sound of far off music makes it true, and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.’


A Bientôt

The Secret Garden…..

When I was a young child, my Father would read from ‘The Secret Garden’ to me almost every day, to the point that I was able to say the words with him as he read…..

Needless to say it was, and still, is one of my favourite books.


“Is the Spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”


“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine………”

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden. 


A Bientôt

The Garden (2)

When we nurture a garden, it gives us so much back….and this was the case with my little Secret Garden in The Magical Town of Crickadoon.

I would sit for hours on this little bench, where all my sense were fed.    There was the natural perfume of nature, the beautiful sounds of bird song, and the visual delights of butterflies and bees as they enjoyed all the foods the garden had to offer. 



When the rose petals fell to the ground like confetti, I would put them in a bowl with a little water…

Sitting enveloped by lavender bushes, I was able to experience the healing and calmness that this beautiful shrub gives.

Another quote from Francis Hodgson Burnett’s – The Secret Garden

And the Secret Garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles’

I had french doors that opened up onto the garden allowing all the smells and sounds of the garden to come indoors….everything was connected.    





A Bientôt

The Garden

Although I was born in London, I grew up in the county of Kent, also called The Garden of England.

Where there were once bluebell woods, fields full of hops, fruit trees, and dancing lambs in the spring time, today we see enormous change in the form of housing developments and motorways.

Given its close proximity to London, and the Channel Tunnel, Kent has become a major throughway by train or car for commuters and for those traveling to the wider continent of Europe.

As an only child, I loved our garden and the surrounding woodlands.    I amused myself by digging holes in the garden with the hope that i might reach Australia.     I would bury jars with notes and little toys…..maybe they are still there:)

When I returned to the UK in 1993, I made my home in the Magical Town of Crickadoon (Crickhowell, Wales), and it was here that with the help of Mother Nature, I developed my own little Secret Garden. 

Here is the garden in full bloom and my cat Cristeve, who inspired the book ‘Christeve the Cat Finds a New Home’, climbing the ladder put there especially for her to visit her friends next door.


I learned so much from this little garden.    It taught and reminded me of the natural rhythms and patterns of nature, and once again I was able to observe the interconnectedness of all life. 

When I first saw the garden it was a little plot filled with junk, and debris collected over many years of neglect.    It was fenced in, and had a small wooden shed in one corner….all very dilapidated and overgrown, but I could see the promise and potential. 

It so happened that I saw this photograph in a magazine, and knew that it would be my guide.    A jumping off point….a term I often use when using photography for painting reference.


The first thing I did, was to completely dig the garden over….and put down stone slabs.


The Magical Town of Crickadoon, is in the heart of the beautiful Usk Valley, Wales.    Over the centuries the land has been flooded and reworked by different gardeners making the soil rich with nutrients.     This little patch had been left fallow for over twenty years which made it ripe for growing.

Friends and neighbours in Crickadoon, gave me cuttings from their gardens….and slowly I watched my garden grow.


And grow


Everything I planted was to encourage birds, bees, butterflies, field mice, caterpillars and every other little insect that inhabit the soil we walk on, and oh my goodness they came along with their beautiful bird song, colour and energy.

I learned that as long as I nurtured the garden, the garden nurtured and fed my senses and soul.  

My sitting room had french doors opening up onto the garden, which meant that even if it was raining hard, I could sit inside and still enjoy the feeling of  being outside.

Scan 109 


I would sit on the little stone bench through the rose arbor with Christeve the Cat, listening to bird song and enjoying the beautiful perfumes of nature.       Magical moments indeed.

I was always reminded that even a tiny garden like this one, nurtures a whole community of seen and unseen life. 

til August 10 1037

To quote Frances Hodgson Burnett, from the book The Secret Garden   ‘If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden’

A Magical Hummingbird helping to pollinate gardens.



A Bientôt