One of my favorite children’s books is the English classic, “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It tells the story of a young, troubled girl who stumbles upon a long-hidden secret garden at an isolated manor house and determines to bring the garden, and the people at the manor house, back to life. There is something captivating about a private, secret space in nature where you can relax, rewind and recover from the stresses of day to day life. Why not consider adding a secret garden to your own landscape – an enclosed space where you can enjoy the pleasure of privacy?
Here are some tips to help transform an outside space into a secret garden:
- Walk around your garden and see where you might create some privacy. You don’t need much space, just enough to enclose, add a few plants and a bench! • Look for a shady space or an area that might already be partially enclosed by a fence or hedges. Consider where you can add an electrical outlet or a water source. Draw out a simple plan of how you want your secret garden to look.
- Create privacy by adding evergreen hedges, small trees, a wall or fence, wooden screen, trellis, or an arbour. Select vines that will climb over the structures, to give a greater sense of enclosure.
- Select plants that will give interest in each season of the year, so you can enjoy your secret garden at any time. Based on your sun requirements, choose “cottage garden” plants that bloom in different seasons, have different textures and fragrance, and are carefree and a little wild! Containers filled with annuals can add a pop of color where needed. Groundcovers add another layer of enclosure.
- Place a bench, hammock, or swing within the enclosed area and add pillows for additional comfort. If you want your secret garden to also serve as a place to entertain, add a patio table and comfortable chairs. Hide a little storage unit behind the hedges to store pillows, books, and other things you want to keep close at hand.
- Design a flagstone pathway to your secret garden. Paths draw people further into your garden to discover hidden features and surprises.
- Install a gate or a vine-draped arbor at the entrance of your secret garden – another charming feature that adds mystery and entices people to see what is beyond. Limit the number of access points into your secret garden to keep it truly hidden.
- Add a focal point or two to draw the eye further. A birdbath, bird feeder, garden sculpture, fountain, or wind chimes are favorite additions. You can even add a whimsical “fairy garden” in your secret garden for added interest or a favorite garden collection, like gazing balls.
- To enjoy your secret garden at night, add subtle lighting that creates a soft mystery.
- Make this your unique, personal space. Fill it with what makes you happy and helps you relax!