Thursday 14 March 2024

Hope in a Garden by Lynne Benton

 In the spring we start to look for signs of new growth, better weather, new hope.  And where better to look than in a garden?  At the moment in England it’s a treat to see snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils pushing their way into the light, giving us hope that somehow things in this increasingly difficult world might improve.

And in each of the three books I want to mention today it is a garden which signifies hope for the child who finds it.

In the first book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written in 1865 By Lewis Carroll, Alice has fallen down a rabbit-hole into a strange and rather scary world.  It’s only when she opens a tiny door and sees through it a wonderful garden that she wants more than anything to go through into it.  Unfortunately at that moment she is way too big to go through the door, but she spends the rest of the book trying to make herself the right size to get into the garden.  In her mind it signifies somewhere safe that she can understand.

In the next book, The Secret Garden, written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett, newly-orphaned Mary Lennox is sent away from her home in the sunshine of India to stay in a big house in Yorkshire with a strange uncle and his formidable housekeeper.  She resents this and is angry and rude, until she discovers a peaceful hidden garden.  It's only then that she begins to realise there could be some hope of a better life here after all.  And when she meets Dickon and her bedridden cousin Colin things definitely start to improve for her, all thanks to the secret garden.

The third book, Tom’s Midnight Garden, written in 1958 by Philippa Pearce, is another story of a child sent away from all that is familiar to a strange place.  Tom resents being sent to stay with an aunt and uncle while his brother has measles, especially when he discovers that his aunt and uncle live in a small flat with no garden, but a tiny back yard where there is nothing to play with and nothing to do.  Then one night, when he hears the grandfather clock in the hall strike thirteen, Tom opens the back door and discovers that the ugly yard has turned into a wonderful garden, and better still there is a girl there to play with.  Her name, she says, is Hatty.  Next morning the garden has disappeared, but the following night when the clock strikes thirteen again, the lovely garden is back, and Hatty is there again, only a little older this time.  And so his stay continues, giving Tom hope that all will be well, for Hatty as well as for himself.

Although there is nearly a hundred years between the first and last of these three books, they all show the lasting fascination a garden can hold for a child, especially one in need of a little hope.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely stories, each one.
Although gardens in books are not quite the hard, muddy work that a real garden can be.