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Picturing a World

Inga Moore’s Secret Garden

An edition of Frances Hodgson Burnett's Secret Garden illustrated by Inga Moore has been my bedtime reading for the last few days of the presidential campaign and should get me through to tomorrow's aftermath. It's lovely. I'm not sure when I last read the novel—maybe as much as thirty years ago when Ruth Sanderson's beautiful edition was published. When I opened this book, I knew I would have adored it as a child and was going to enjoy it now. In my conceit as a garden historian, though, I thought its illustrations of the Misselthwaite grounds were a bit over the top—much too complicated and big to be maintained by the one gardener I remembered from the story. Well, I was wrong.

The gardens described by Burnett in the text are those of a grand estate, and Ben Weatherstaff is not the only gardener. There is Mr. Roach, the head gardener, and at least two unnamed undergardeners, maybe more. Two bird's-eye views of the estate are wonderful for reverie, and almost every page has at least a decoration. The topiary and pots and stairs and walls all fit Victorian and Edwardian gardens. If you need an escape and like this sort of thing, this edition is highly recommended. For more illustrations from this and other Inga Moore books, click here. And if you are interested in a comparison of this Secret Garden to other illustrated editions, click here.

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