For more than a hundred years readers who fell in love with “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, have set out to create their own secret garden in their backyard. With a little creativity and inspiration you too can create a secluded space and magical corner in your backyard.
What Type of Secret Garden Would You Like?
A secret garden can be a magical and hidden oasis in your backyard so when you go about creating your garden ask yourself: What do you want to be able to do there? Do you want room for a hammock and a water feature for endless hours of hidden reading? Do you want to put up a table and chairs for fairy tea parties or inviting a friend for lunch? Do you want the space big enough to include a fire pit and stone benches?
Another design concept to consider is what do you want your space to feel like? Will it be a creative place with bright colors that inspire you? Or do you want a calm atmosphere with soothing tones and natural decorations? Draw out your ideal design and what inspires you. If you’ve always thought that a secret garden needed to have crumbling stone and a cottage garden design then think again!
Let your creativity run wild and determine how you would like to relax in your secret garden and let that help you decide how big to make your space.
Choosing a Spot for a Secret Garden
Look at your yard and determine where your best spot for a secret garden will be. Depending on how you’ll use your secret space the spot may need only be large enough for a bistro set for full seclusion, or a little larger if you’d like to invite more people into your outdoor space.
Using the side of a house or a back corner of the yard allows for the beginnings of privacy already and will help you to build out from what you already have. If you have a natural alcove or a garden gate to work with then these are also good starting points for choosing where you’ll create your garden.
Creating a Sense of Privacy
The first key of a secret garden is that it is a special, secluded space that gives the feel of being hidden, this is why you must first decide how you’ll create privacy when designing your garden.
Creating privacy can definitely be done over time using trees, shrubs and other tall-growing plants, but if you’re looking to create privacy quickly (especially while waiting for plants to grow in) then you still have options:
Doors and Screens
You can purchase outdoor privacy screens or used bi-fold closet doors. Outdoor privacy screens are already built for the yard with the proper materials and even designs and textures that look beautiful in nature which is a bonus.
If you’d like to save a little more money then transforming some secondhand bi-fold doors will do the trick with some paint. The paint color you choose will set the tone for your secret garden whether it is a soothing natural space or a whimsical bohemian hideaway!
Curtains, Fabric and Drapes
The beauty of using curtains or fabric or drapes for a wall is the simplicity and cost. Use a wood frame or PVC piping to create your own custom height, length and dimensions for a fabric privacy wall for your garden. Patterns from nature can fit right in amid flora and fauna while solid-colored textures will add interest and beauty to your backdrop.
There is nothing better then the beauty of living plants to create your privacy. Consider looking into what types of hedge plants grow best in your zone. Hedges don’t usually grow that fast but a trailing vine of ivy or nasturtium can grow much more quickly up a lattice or framework. Plants like arborvitae have long been used for a privacy fence and the same principles can be put to work to create your secret garden.
Creating an Entry for Your Secret Garden
Part of the whimsy of a secret garden is that they have an entry — they are set a part from the rest of the yard and invite you to step inside and discover what is behind the door.
Keep the entry in theme with the rest of your secret space which means you could use anything from a stone gate, a wooden trellis or even hanging vines on an arbor that need to be pushed aside to enter.
Choosing Plants for Your Secret Garden
The plants you choose will reflect the theme and feel of your garden whether you want English roses and ivy or brightly colored zinnias and overflowing pots of tidal wave petunias. When choosing flowers keep in mind certain aspects of the plant that could add a magical touch to your space:
Plants with a Lovely Scent
Certain types of flowers are known for their lovely scents and in an inclosed garden space that scent could become even more noticeable. Flowering plants like lilacs, hyacinths, lavender and magnolias all have beautiful perfumes.
Plants that attract Hummingbirds
There is something magical about spotting a hummingbird nearby and you can plant certain flowers to encourage those beautiful birds to grace your secret garden. Hummingbirds love trumpet honeysuckle, rose of Sharon, columbines and bee balm, all of which grow beautifully in most zones in the USA. Add a birdbath and birdhouse to your garden to invite more bird varieties to be at home in the secret garden.
Plants that Attract Butterflies
You will be surprised at the variety of butterflies you can attract when you plant the right flowers in your garden. Day Lillies, coneflowers, phlox and Lantana will all invite butterflies to stop and visit your secret spot.
Plants that Look Effortless
Oftentimes the image of a secret garden is a slightly wild, natural looking space devoid of tidy edges and carefully pruned bushes. To create a space that looks like it was effortlessly created by nature then look at planting flowers that will reseed in your zone. Letting flowers reseed means they will pop up in new places, spread naturally and come back in more abundance each year.With these simple tips and a good plan in place you’re well on your way to enjoying a quiet afternoon hidden away in your secret garden!