amy merrickliving in

living in: the secret garden

by amym

It’d be fair to say that a living in has been incubating in my brain ever since I was 9. It was the first book I ever read that I absolutely couldn’t put down, devouring every word, and then, a bizarre taped from the tv version that came out in the late 1980s. I was Mary Lennox. I dreamed of mail-order seeds, secret passages, tamed foxes and lost skeleton keys and unsurprisingly, I still do.

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CLICK HERE for the second roundup and more movie stills after the jump!

Since gardens are in short supply in Brooklyn, I’ve learned to cope the best I can. My fire escape is a tangle of terra cotta pots and I’ve developed a serious house plant habit. The Secret Garden’s rustic charm had a radical impact on my early childhood development- the ivy stone walls, vintage seed packets, padlocks and skeleton keys. While I can’t have my own small locked garden just yet, I’m hoarding mossy planters just the same.

1. , $6 each; 2. s, $50; 3. Sussex pyramid obelisk, $148; 4. , $5, 5. , $210; 6. , $50; 7. , $49; 8. , $38; 9. , $9; 10. , $10.

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  • Oh I love this one. The Secret Garden is one of my all-time favorites and it’s so lovely to see the stills pop up on my computer. Thank you Amy!

  • This movie version of the story is my absolute favorite. It is by far the most involved and magical for me.

    I, too, dreamt of secret passage ways into walled spaces that I could make my own.

  • an absolute favorite! my sister and i had to two little stone elephants that we would clink their noses together… glad you included one….

  • The Secret Garden was also the first book I read that captivated me like no other. My parents let me grow my own garden when I was a kid, and to this day, I still love buying gardening supplies and plants and “trying” to make them grow on my small, shady apartment balcony. I actually watch this movie whenever it’s on tv, which is rare. Thanks for writing this!

  • I watched this movie a few months ago and was totally amazing by the awesome style of every costume and shot. Glad someone did a post about it. Great stuff.

  • Absolutely loved this book as a child and later the movie as well! Lovely! Can’t wait to share the book/movie with my daughter someday!

  • Oh no… How come I’ve totally forgotten this book & movie, got instant chills going on when I saw this post’s title… One of my childhood favourites, maybe I should try to get my hands on it some day :)

  • I loved this version of the movie! Haven’t watched it in a long time, I think the tape has suffered, but I still have it. Gonna have to watch it again. <3

  • Gosh, yes. I have never seen this movie or read the book (shocking, I know), but I’m going to have to. This is exactly the aesthetic I would like to aspire to someday.

  • I actually just watched this on netflix streaming a few weeks ago. Never gets old. Loved the sense of mystery and the darkness, especially in a children’s book/movie.

  • I adore this book! I think of it every spring and how it made me want a “little bit of earth” for my own garden. I don’t remember the movie very well – it has a bit tacked on at the end when the characters are grown up that wasn’t in the book, right? I think I was sketched out by that! But this Living In captures the feeling of the book really well!!

  • You’re making me swoon. The sun hat! The ivory elephant! This will always be one of my very favorite stories, and very favorite movies. I even named my blog after it ; )

    Lovely post, you’ll have me floating the rest of the day.

  • Love, love, LOVE this! I adored the book and that movie. I wanted to live in India and watch my parents throw fabulous parties. I still have this movie on VHS somewhere around here…

  • This story left it’s mark on me. I can still place myself in that imaginary environment without effort. Not surprised Amy liked it too. Love the things picked to represent the aesthetic.

  • awww i get the warm-fuzzies just thinking of this flick! thanks for featuring it for this ‘living in’. p.s. i think the same creative team did ‘the little princess’ around the same time – also a beauty.

  • Such a wonderful movie! My 6 month old is named Archie, and I frequently find myself calling, “Ahhh-chie” to him like the haunting voice in the movie. Now I can’t wait until he is big enough to watch it!

  • I absolutely love The Secret Garden. It has to be one of my top ten books of all time, and that’s not an easy list to crack.

    Amy, have you seen the annotated edition of the book? It’s AMAZING.

  • AHHH! I love this story as well! And I played that movie so many times I could tell you every line! But you forgot the lovely white elephants that her mom and her aunt had. I ALWAYS wanted one of those (but not made out of Ivory, because thats cruel)! Maybe a ceramic version?

  • which movie version is this, please?
    i have avoided every dramatic version of this favorite book, but this movie looks like it may be spot-on, at least visually.

  • I completely forgot about The Secret Garden until right now! It was one of my first favorite books.

  • I was very excited to see the title of this post as The Secret Garden –both book and film– was one of my childhood favorites. I’ve also seen the embroidered dustjackets post a couple of times in the last few days on various blogs, which features The Secret Garden. I had no idea there was a 1993 version pictured here in your post. I watched the 1987 version (Hallmark Hall of Fame) many, many times, but only today learned that none other than Colin Firth (I luuurv him!) played the adult Colin (1987 film)!

  • i just squealed. this is one of my favorite books EVER! and i love how the movie brought it to life. this is perfect! one of my dreams in life is to have my own secret garden! love this post =)

  • i read “The Secret Garden” and “The Indian in the Cupboard” back-to-back and ended up carrying a skeleton key with me everywhere for a year! I really think it’s time to re-read this book.

  • I needed this today. The Secret Garden was the first real play I ever saw, at Ioka theater in NH with my aunt & uncle. I’ve been going thru and writing my memories of her () but i’d forgotten about that night.

  • I never saw this movie (and still refuse) because this was my FAVORITE book when I was a little girl (from ages 8-11). I had a clear picture in my head of how everything should look and I know that the movie just won’t match. *sigh* I still have it on my book shelf – hopefully my daughter will read it when she’s older :)

  • I loved the book and the movie growing up, and just re-read the book, and it brought back so many good memories from being small and playing in my grandmother’s garden. The beginning of the story always scared me when I was little though – something about waking up and finding no one you know, and being forgotten.
    I second the “Little Princess” nomination, by the way!

  • I can’t believe some of you guys know that Hallmark version! That’s an amy classic!

    My family TO THIS DAY quote the hilarious commercials from our tape.

  • Also one of my earliest favorite books… my Mom, who is 99, recommended it to me when I was about 8. It was HER favorite book as a child, so it goes waaaaaaay back. I must have re-read it a dozen times. I still have my original copy, and I’ve seen several movie versions. This is the sweetest!

  • I too was obsessed with this book and movie when I was little, and (so timely!) I’ve had a renewal of my obsession these past couple months. I read the book again, bought the movie (which my daughter LOVES), and then have been listening the broadway play, which is incredible. As I was rereading it, the designer in me was overwhelmed at the thought of decorating such a massive castle like that, and I was dazzled at the thought of grandeur on that type of scale–you definitely don’t see that these days. It’s very spooky and magical to imagine though.

  • This is my favorite ‘living in’ ever! I’m coveting the yellow hat; but not at $225. I think I’ll be looking for a knock off version.

  • I love both versions of this movie- the creepy Hallmark one from the 80’s and this one listed. But I love the book more. Thanks for posting this one- LOVE!

  • Funny, I’ve never seen this version, only the earlier one (I guess it’s the Hallmark version) and I’m actually reading the book right now! At the end of the other version is a very young Colin Firth as Colin back from the war. I never realized that until I saw it again a couple of years ago. Now I’ll have to watch this version.

  • I remember this book/movie like I just watched/read it! There was always something SO beautiful about it. I wish I could transport myself into a secret garden today!!

  • I have never seen this movie but the book is dear to my heart. It was one of the first books I read when I was learning English. Thank you for your lovely post.

  • It looks like I’m late to the love-this-movie party, but oh my did I LOVE this movie! It was only very slightly behind A Little Princess in my favorite films/books for the first, oh, ten years of my life.

  • Adore that movie! I grew up watching it over and over again. I always wanted a home with doors hidden behind tapestries and vines, secret nicknacks (like the elephant), and special places to hang out and enjoy the scenery. It’s a part of the creative imagination! :)

  • I’ve never seen any film of TSG because I don’t know why. But I have the book that I won in a contest when I was 7 years old. With the Tasha Tudor illustrations. Thanks for this…maybe I will finally watch it now that I’m 54 years old. :)

  • i’ll never get over the secret garden film. the garden itself has influenced how i see beauty since i was young too. lovely to see someone else giving it appreciation!

  • Ohhhhh the secret garden. love love love. re-read in University for a class. So great.. As a child and as an adult. I am pretty sure I will have my own secret garden one day – and living in Ireland, it just could happen/come true!
    meagan, row house nest

  • I loved the book and I loved the movie, and I even loved the stage production. I was addicted to this story as a girl. I think it formed who I was and what I thought was important more than most any other book.

    “I’m glad it’s wick!” she cried out in her whisper. “I want them all to be wick!”

  • I read the book in Grade twelve for the first time and was completely captured by it. This winter I read it aloud to my 8 year old daughter (You all MUST read it aloud – it begs to be read aloud!) and loved it all over again – we both did. I have kind of been scared to watch any movie version of it, but maybe now I will, if I can just get those boys out of the house for a while!

  • What a wonderful choice! The book and the BBC mini series *captured* me when I was around first grade. While trying to figure out which film version I watched as a child I found it on ! :D :D :D

  • Um, you totally made my day. This was my favorite movie when I was younger! I so wanted to be her. And then I got the soundtrack to the musical for christmas one year. Love the music!

    Oh man. I want a secret garden.

  • This was a perfect “living in”. This was definitely one of my favorite movies, along with The Little Princess. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved this movie. I think everyone should have a secret garden.

  • ohhh I adored this movie. I loved the music, the mystery, and the secret places that they discovered in the garden. I think every child should have beautiful fantastical adventures and discoveries in the nature. secret garden is a dream.

  • I was just thinking about this movie this morning! The scene where Mary watches her mother from underneath the bed just before the earthquake is heartbreaking. And I definitely wanted to explore Misselthwaite Manor and go riding around in the highlands on a pony. This movie was totally the beginning of my Anglophilia! I also can’t help but compare The Secret Garden to Downton Abbey now. They’ve both got such great Maggie Smith characters!

  • Oh my goodness, I LOVED this movie when I was little. I had a little ceramic elephant that I carried around because of the ivory one she had. I watched it all the time. I haven’t seen it in years.
    I would creep through my house and pretend I was her looking for passages. :)

  • I didn’t like the movie, thought Mary was annoying… but last November I’ve read the book and it was simply magical. I couldn’t wait until it was spring to stuff my courtyard garden with plants – which is what I’ve been indulging in for the past few weeks :)

  • Also one of my favorite books and this movie version is the best. I LOVED this Mary. Thanks for the memories. I’ll be adding this to my list of things to watch this week. Thanks!

  • I must say, I really loved the Hallmark version of the Secret Garden (1985?) starring Derek Jacobi and Colin Firth (though he only appeared a mere 5 minutes at the end of the movie as the adult Colin), that being said, I wasn’t taken with this version when it first came out. But after seeing it several times now, I must say I really appreciate this excellent production as well!!!

  • Couldn’t get enough of the ’80s version. I was all over it in 6th grade! *Colin Firth*?? Have to find it and watch again.

    I still have the fashion memory of adult Mary in her menswear-chic 1920s outfit. Very influential.

  • As a young girl I adored both the book and the movie. I also remember being very excited to get my hands on a copy of the 1993 video release, which came with–be still my heart–a little silver locket! Now an adult, I would be just as happy to wile away an afternoon wandering in FH Burnett’s magical garden.

  • I love that you posted about this! I too love The Secret Garden. When asked today – I still list it as my favorite book. I saw the TV movie (Hallmark 1987) version when I was little and begged my mother to buy it for me! I found the musical long after the broadway run was over, but it reignited my passion when I was in middle school. To this day – I am OBSESSED! Thank you for posting this!!

  • Awesome! This movie was my favorite when I was younger and when I watched it again a few months ago it still brought back the same feelings. I used to be so jealous that Dickon had a horse! It might be time to get a faux-ivory elephant…

  • Wow! You have a talent for reading a person’s mind. This enchanting Pogo remix of the Secret Garden soundtrack has been playing pretty much nonstop on my computer.

  • I saw the secateur pair at Brook Farm General Store last month, but didn’t feel like spending $50 for the set when I only wanted one. I found a single, similar looking secateur on amazon for $25 and bought it last week. It’s great!

  • i love this movie!! i thought i was the only one who watched it over and over on a vhs tape, complete with the tv commercials

  • I squealed when this popped up on my blog reader. The Secret Garden has been my favorite movie for ages and it seems like no one knows about it.

  • No way!!! I just watched this movie recently and was thinking about doing a post on it. Well, you beat me to the punch (and did a wonderful job, of course.) I’ll have to act fast next time I get a movie post idea.

  • This is crazy … I just talked about Mary Lennox and gardening and The Secret Garden yesterday on my blog.

    I had a thing for France Hodgson Burnett books growing up (and I admit I still do) and I was thrilled to discover that one of her homes in the States was in Knoxville, TN, only an hour from where I spent my teenage years.

    I spent many hours in my youth dreaming of finding and tending a secret garden of my own. No matter how many times I read the book, I still wanted to cry when I heard how Colin’s mother died and his father locked up her favorite place. I couldn’t wait for Mary to get over her self-conceit and pride, and I couldn’t wait for Dickon and all his animals to show up and inspire the magic.

    I still use the word “wick” to this day to describe something that is alive in a garden.

    Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane! Now I need to go read the book again …

  • Lovely! I have just been through the whole back catalogue of Living Ins and it’s amazing how many of my favourite films are there that I have obsessed about at one time or other. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is a sucker for visually stunning films. When I was younger I used to see a film and daydream about it, trying to dress like characters or do my hair like them! (In the privacy of my own bedroom though!) In another life I was a movie art director!

  • This story had me completely captivated as a girl! What an absolute delight to be reminded of it on this dreary Michigan day…
    I’ve been looking for that secret garden all my life…

  • This post made me watch the movie for the first time…and I’m 30 years old :) I watched with my 3 year old son – he loved it!
    The Secret Garden is the kind of movie that can change the rest of your life if you watched as a child… it can inspire kids to become whatever they imagine – gardeners, landscape designers, architects, antique lovers :)

    Thank you DS for this post – it’s truly special.

  • Ahhhh, one of my favorites. Have you seen the one from 1993? It was lovely. I love your little “roundups”. I’ll take one of everything, thank you very much!
    Also, thanks so much for the reminder. It’s pouring rain here, and I’m thinking that The Secret Garden would be the perfect accompaniment.
    Take care, and have a wonderful day!

  • My daughters and I have been completely obsessed with the secret garden since we watched it in 1993 we designed a board game for a school project, we bought the soundtrack, my oldest daughter pick some of the lovely music for her short program for a figure skating competition I could go on and on. It was such a beautiful movie the story the gardens and furniture the dogs we love it all.

  • When I was a little girl, one day I was at my grandmothers when had just bought the 93 version of the movie. Wrapped to the back of the movie there was a locket that she gave to me. To this day I still wear the locket, and still love watching the movie:) has anyone else found a locket?

  • I just started a blog and my first posts were about the secret garden! I love to write and have always wanted to start a blog as an outlet to do so, but was always a bit timid as I’m sure many are feeling like too many people are into rap music videos and whatever else people are obsessed with these days to relate to what I find such pleasure in. So to stumble across this and see so many comments from girls who are as love with the Secret Garden as I am encouraged me and refreshed my soul. Thank you for these posts!

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