The Secret Garden and Inspiration for Creating Your Own

The latest film of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden has just been released, a story mainly about the healing properties of a garden and gardening and how being outside can help both physical and mental health.

Autumn colours at Fountains Abbey

Creating Your Own

Something that many people have found this year are the healing and therapeutic properties of a garden and the value of having an outside space whether it’s a balcony or rolling lawns with overflowing borders. The idea of creating a secret garden is very appealing, not necessarily enclosing the whole garden from the world but perhaps a small nook to create a seated area in which to enjoy a cup of coffee and a good book away from the world. Or creating a room or rooms within the garden, a secluded dining area or flower cutting patch in which to potter. Hedges are ideal for dividing up a garden, a tall beech (Fagus sylvatica) or hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) hedge to provide privacy or lower growing box (Buxus sempervirens) to give the impression of distinct areas.

Helmsley walled garden on a sunny autumn day

Adding an arch, covered in scented climbers in which to wander through can give the feeling of walking into your very own hidden doorway into a secret garden. A large shrub or small tree can provide enough screening for a bench or table and chair, the options are endless. With working from home set to become a feature of life creating a space to call your own will be invaluable for taking a laptop or area to switch off from modern technology will be invaluable, when the weather is good (I love taking a steaming cup of coffee into the garden on a sunny winter’s day and sitting on the bottom step onto the lawn) or with the right protection from the elements (a cover over a seating area, firepit to keep you warm …).

Inventive use of garden implements for the one way system at Helmsley walled garden.

Yorkshire Inspiration

Not only is it an uplifting story but many of the locations used for the film are on my doorstep in Yorkshire. From the glorious ruins of Fountains Abbey, somewhere I’ve been lucky enough to visit at the height of summer and more recently seeing ‘Fountains by Floodlight’. From wandering round the grounds as the sun sets over the autumnal colours reflected in the lakes to seeing the eeriness of the ruins lit up at night, you can almost imagine the monks being called to evening prayer. To the walled garden at Helmsley, full of inspiration for your own garden and a riot of colour throughout the season. Having visited in the last couple of weeks the garden was still a profusion of dahlias, rudbeckias and asters. There is more information here or if you’d like to visit Helmsley Walled Garden (the café is fantastic too)

About the Author

Camilla Grayley is a garden designer based in York, mainly working in and around Yorkshire but has travelled up and down the UK to design gardens and is always happy to travel to help clients with their gardens. I love creating gardens with strong architectural outlines softened by voluminous planting that draws on year round interest, ensuring there is something to capture the eye whatever the season. Gardens should always evoke all the senses from the colour palette on the eye, to the rustling of plants swaying in the wind to the amazing perfumes that can be inhaled, whether on a summer’s evening or the depth of winter.


If you would like to know more working with me or would like help creating your very own secret garden please feel free to have a look at my Garden Design and Garden Consultancy Services or contact me.

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