The Week Secret Gardens Are Unlocked


Since the Garden of Eden closed, who hasn’t wanted to get back in?

It must be that archetypal connection that makes gated, walled or out-of-view gardens such an obsession.

They show up all the time in literature. Oscar Wilde wrote about the frozen garden of the selfish giant, which thawed when a child was invited in. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden, written at the beginning of the 20th century, has inspired many a child to enter the magic territory of imagination.

Somehow what’s locked beyond those gates is irresistible. Often they protect a broken heart — and possibly the remedy to fix it.

The no trespassing sign comes down this weekend, when, if you have the shibboleth, you can step inside forbidden ground and take home inspiration.

The necessary shibboleth is a ticket, and its price is a pittance weighed against the mysteries that must be inside.

Is sweet early June the time dreams come true, or is it only coincidence that not one but many secret gardens are unlocked this week? (See 8 Days a Week for particulars.)

Certainly, the keys were turned and gates were opened independently and at a distance. 

On June 5 and 6, you can enter 12 secret gardens and peer unabashedly into one, if you buy a ticket for Hammond-Harwood House’s Secret Garden Tour, previewed in Margaret Tearman’s lead story this week. The price is only $25 if you buy in advance.

This very same weekend, 2nd Star Productions bring to their stage at White Marsh Park Theater a musical production of The Secret Garden. So you have ready access to the mysteries of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s imagination.

The access doesn’t end there.

On June 6, the North Beach House and Garden Club unlocks not only garden gates but also front doors. The 25th anniversary tour opens eight homes and businesses and their gardens, bringing the total of homes and gardens revealed to some 250.

Antique dealer Dale Thomas, owner of Nice & Fleazy, conceived the tour and led it for 10 years. 

The magic of the tour, Thomas says, is that “it opens up lifestyles, architecture, ways of designing and decorating at the same time it strengthens a sense of community.” 

Stories of secret gardens don’t end there.

This same week, a new garden blooms unwalled, to mend broken hearts. That’s the Burnett Calvert Hospice House Garden you’ll read about in Dock of the Bay. It was funded with money the Calvert Garden Club raised for sponsoring Calvert’s leg of the 2008 Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage.

So there’s no end to the wonders secret gardens can set free.

But let’s not get carried away by the entry we’ve enjoyed. Places that take their power from rightful owners are ours only for inspiration, not trespass.


A Nest Is Not Quite a Garden, But …

Even an osprey family deserves to keep its nest sacred and secret. Keep your admiration at a distance. That’s what the osprey tried to tell a boater who tied up to its nest post in Herring Bay on Memorial Day. The boat was big, the size of a fishing charter boat, and two other boats rafted up to it, one breaking away to tow a skier. The ospreys’ circles of protest were ignored. So I take this occasion to speak for them.


Sandra Olivetti Martin 

editor and publisher; [email protected]