The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Secret Garden can help.
Roses Symbol Icon

The roses in the secret garden function as symbols for Mary, Colin, and specifically, the understanding that the children, like the roses, need nurturing to grow. Just like Mary and Colin, the roses have been neglected (save for Ben Weatherstaff's intermittent secret pruning) for ten years and yet, they still have the capacity to flourish. Initially, Mary wonders whether the roses are dead or are secretly alive, just as adults wonder whether she'll ever look pleasant or healthy. As Mary and Dickon begin to prune the roses and discover all the live parts of the plants, Mary simultaneously discovers life and health within herself. Specifically, the rose that Colin plants mirrors his decision to effectively plant himself in the garden, accept Mary and Dickon's friendship, and allow himself to grow and bloom as a result, just like the roses do under the children's care.

Roses Quotes in The Secret Garden

The The Secret Garden quotes below all refer to the symbol of Roses. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Secret Garden published in 2010.
Chapter 9 Quotes

All that troubled her was her wish that she knew whether all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had lived and might put out leaves and buds as the weather got warmer. She did not want it to be a quite dead garden. If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side!

Related Characters: Mary Lennox
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden, Roses
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

"Do you like roses?" she said.

Ben Weatherstaff rooted up a weed and threw it aside before he answered.

"Well, yes, I do. I was learned that by a young lady I was gardener to. She had a lot in a place she was fond of, an' she loved 'em like they was children—or robins. I've seen her bend over an' kiss 'em." He dragged out another weed and scowled at it. "That were as much as ten year' ago."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Ben Weatherstaff (speaker), Mrs. Craven
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden, Roses
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

"You are just what I—what I wanted," he said. "I wish you were my mother—as well as Dickon's!"

All at once Susan Sowerby bent down and drew him with her warm arms close against the bosom under the blue cloak—as if he had been Dickon's brother. The quick mist swept over her eyes.

"Eh! Dear lad!" she said. "Thy own mother's in this 'ere very garden, I do believe. She couldna' keep out of it. Thy father mun come back to thee—he mun!"

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Susan Sowerby / Mother (speaker), Mary Lennox , Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden, Roses
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Secret Garden LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Secret Garden PDF

Roses Symbol Timeline in The Secret Garden

The timeline below shows where the symbol Roses appears in The Secret Garden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...wall again, and Mary cries out. Ben Weatherstaff explains that he lives there among the roses. Mary asks if there are actually roses in the garden, and Ben mumbles that there... (full context)
Chapter 5
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...to it. Because she was so small, Mrs. Craven often sat on a tree with roses growing on it, but one day, the branch broke and she died. (full context)
Chapter 7
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...wants to know all about her. Mary continues her questioning and asks if flowers and roses are growing in the garden where the robin lives. Gruffly, Ben says that the robin... (full context)
Chapter 9
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
The walls of the garden and the trees in it are all covered in trailing roses, and the forgotten rosebushes look almost like trees. Mary doesn't know if anything is dead... (full context)
Chapter 10
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...asks him what he'd plant in a flower garden, and he answers that he'd plant roses like a young woman he used to garden for did. That woman would kiss the... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Excitedly, Mary asks if roses die when they're left alone. Ben Weatherstaff says that some died and tells Mary what... (full context)
Chapter 11
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...that this will be the safest nesting place very soon, and Mary asks if the roses are dead. He steps to a tree hung with roses and points to a shoot... (full context)
Chapter 13
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...if the garden is dead, and Mary explains that the bulbs will live, but the roses are questionable. She tells him that spring is coming and tells him again how wonderful... (full context)
Chapter 14
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...to see things growing, but Martha says that they took him outside once to see roses and it was a disaster: he yelled at a gardener and cried himself sick. Mary... (full context)
Chapter 17
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...garden might look like to help him fall asleep and Mary complies. She talks about roses, the spring, and crocuses. (full context)
Chapter 21
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...out a very old tree. Mary notes that it looks dead, though it's covered with roses. Colin notices a broken branch, but Dickon turns his attention to the robin, who has... (full context)
Chapter 22
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...in two years, but he used to climb over the wall occasionally to prune the roses. He shares that Mrs. Craven made him promise to take care of her roses and... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...on his first day in the garden. Ben laughs and offers to get Colin a rose so he can plant something. Very soon, they settle the potted rose in the ground... (full context)
Chapter 23
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...Flowers bloom, and Ben tells the children about the flowers that Mrs. Craven liked. The roses develop buds that eventually turn into hundreds of blossoms. Colin decides that he can see... (full context)
Chapter 26
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...she's looking, she'll look as pretty as Mary's mother and will be "like a blush rose" when she grows up. Mary is pleased to hear this, as she always thought her... (full context)
Chapter 27
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...Mr. Craven into the garden and show him all the autumn flowers in bloom, including roses. Mr. Craven says that he thought the garden would be dead, and they all sit... (full context)