The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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

The Secret Garden Symbol Analysis

The Secret Garden Symbol Icon

The secret garden, a walled garden at Misselthwaite that ten years ago was Mrs. Craven's pride and joy, symbolizes the late Mrs. Craven herself, though it grows into a symbol of Mary’s growth over the course of the novel. The garden is something that intrigues Mary from the first time she hears about it. She learns that Mr. Craven locked the garden and buried the key after his wife's death, as it was a painful reminder of her and the love they shared. As Mary begins to learn and grow through her engagement with the garden, it also becomes a symbol for Mary and Mary's growth, as she discovers kindness and compassion within herself as the garden blooms in the spring. Especially once Colin begins spending time in the garden, it begins to more broadly represent mothering, nurturing, and growth. In the garden, Mary and Colin learn to be happy, thoughtful, and caring people—all things that the novel suggests they would've learned from their mothers, had their mothers been present. Their exit from the garden and into Mr. Craven's arms then suggests that the children have outgrown their intense and youthful need for such a mothering presence and, at the end of the novel, are ready to enter the wider and more masculine world with the skills and habits the garden taught them.

The Secret Garden Quotes in The Secret Garden

The The Secret Garden quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Secret Garden. 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:

"Could you keep a secret, if I told you one? It's a great secret. I don't know what I should do if any one found it out. I believe I should die!" She said the last sentence quite fiercely.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Then Mary did a strange thing. She learned forward and asked him a question she had never dreamed of asking any one before. And she tried to ask it in Yorkshire because that was his language, and in India a native was always pleased if you knew his speech.

"Does tha' like me?" she said.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

"Oh, don't you see how much nicer it would be if it was a secret?"

He dropped back on his pillow and lay there with an odd expression on his face.

"I never had a secret," he said, "except that one about not living to grow up. They don't know I know that, so it is a sort of secret. But I like this kind better."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

"He's been lying in his room so long and he's always been so afraid of his back that it has made him queer," said Mary. "He knows a good many things out of books but he doesn't know anything else. He says he has been to ill to notice things and he hates going out of doors and hates gardens and gardeners. But he likes to hear about this garden because it is a secret."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven, Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

"You'll get plenty of fresh air, won't you?" said Mary.

"I'm going to get nothing else," he answered. "I've seen the spring now and I'm going to see the summer. I'm going to see everything grow here. I'm going to grow here myself."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker), Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

"I shall stop being queer," he said, "if I go every day to the garden. There is Magic in there—good Magic, you know, Mary. I am sure there is."

"So am I," said Mary.

"Even if it isn't real Magic," Colin said, "we can pretend it is. Something is there—something!"

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 281-282
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

The Secret Garden Symbol Timeline in The Secret Garden

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Secret Garden appears in The Secret Garden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Mary finds a closed door to another garden but it opens into an orchard, not the secret garden . She does notice that the wall seems to continue as though it's enclosing another... (full context)
Chapter 8
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...walks up and down the wall. She finds it frustrating to be so close to the secret garden but unable to get in, and decides to carry the key with her everywhere from... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...is watching before she turns the key, pushes the door open, and slips quietly into the secret garden . (full context)
Chapter 9
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...the fire, Mary says that she wishes she had a spade. Carefully, as to keep the secret garden a secret, she tells Martha that Misselthwaite Manor is lonely, so she wants to be... (full context)
Chapter 10
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Mary decides to call her garden the secret garden . She loves it, especially since she's read about secret gardens in some of her... (full context)
Chapter 11
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...gone when she returns. She asks him if he promises not to tell anyone about the secret garden , and he assures her that he'll guard her secret like he guards missel thrush... (full context)
Chapter 12
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...is supposed to last until fall or winter, which leaves her ample time to "watch the secret garden come alive." (full context)
Chapter 13
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...tells him again how wonderful it would be if they could find the way into the secret garden , watch things grow, says that it'd be nicer if it could be a secret.... (full context)
Chapter 15
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...stay on. Mary is still careful to not reveal to Colin that she's already found the secret garden , as she wants to make sure he can keep secrets first. She also wants... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...seems green and Mary notices new things growing in the flowerbeds. At the door to the secret garden , Mary sees a crow on the wall. Inside the garden she finds Dickon working,... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...share the wonders of her day with Colin. She vows to not tell him about the secret garden and thinks he deserves to feel miserable. (full context)
Chapter 17
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...has, but she'll tell him everything tomorrow. Colin says that if he can get into the secret garden , he's sure he'll grow up. He asks her to softly tell him what the... (full context)
Chapter 18
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...Mary says that Dickon is going to visit and that she found the door to the secret garden . Colin nearly sobs. Mary tells him all about it and admits that when she... (full context)
Chapter 20
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...then, she steps into the bed, opens the door, and Dickon pushes the chair into the secret garden . Colin gasps happily and looks at all the growing things. Dickon and Mary watch... (full context)
Chapter 21
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...burst into tears. Colin says that he's Ben's master and commands Ben to come inside the secret garden so they can speak. Ben climbs down. (full context)
Chapter 24
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Whenever Dickon isn't working in the secret garden , he's working in his own garden at home. After supper some nights, Mrs. Sowerby... (full context)
Chapter 25
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
The secret garden blooms, and soon the robin's mate lays eggs. Everyone in the garden seems to know... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...discovered the many rooms that nobody goes into. Colin thinks that it sounds like a secret garden and suggests that they go play in the rest of the house. (full context)
Chapter 27
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
The narrator says that at the same time as the secret garden is "coming alive," along with Colin and Mary, Mr. Craven is wandering around Europe as... (full context)
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...edge of a beautiful lake. He dreams that Mrs. Craven is calling to him from the secret garden and wakes up to a brilliantly beautiful morning. A servant is there and offers Mr.... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...of how calming and beautiful the moor is and vows to find the key to the secret garden and open the door. When he arrives at Misselthwaite, the servants notice that he looks... (full context)
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
While all this is going on in the secret garden , Ben Weatherstaff sits in the servants' hall drinking beer with Mrs. Medlock. Mrs. Medlock... (full context)