The Secret Gardens of Country House Novels
The Gardens of the English country house can be places of constrast and escape; as we explore them, there will be locked gates, rolling lawns and (of course) blood-red rhododendrons and, speaking of blood, a couple of rather nasty murders involving sanded paths and a lot of rose bushes …
A lot of literary action takes place in the gardens of country houses and the contrast between the formality of the ‘big house’ and the freedom of the garden can be particularly charged. For adults and children alike it can be a place of concealment, relaxation and drama. The garden allows us, literally and figuratively, to see the country house from another angle. These literary places are ripe for exploring.
Jane Austen’s, Mansfield Park, Frances Hodgson-Burnett, The Secret Garden, Christianna Brand’s Suddenly at his Residence, Ian McEwen’s Atonement