top of page

4 Quotes & 2 movies to celebrate National Garden Day

Although Rudyard Kipling’s observation that “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade” cannot be refuted, National Garden Day is certainly one day to do exactly that - sit in the shade and sing, “Oh, how beautiful.”

National Garden Day is a celebration of Spring’s colourful burst (no matter how brief that may be in Gauteng) and its natural therapeutic benefits. Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” -May Sarton

It doesn't matter how you choose to celebrate the day (although wearing a flower crown is a good start), as long as you take the time to appreciate the fragrant flourish of Spring all around you. And Ruth Stout’s advice, “I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden,” is a good start.

Pack a picnic and explore your public botanical gardens, sit a while in your own garden, take a walk in your suburb appreciating the gardens of others or pop into your local gardening centre for a little green-fingered inspiration.

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” -David Hobson.

And then, as National Garden Day draws to a close with the shadows of the setting sun - a gentle ombré of purple pink and orange - it’s time to keep the Garden Day theme going by watching a movie where a garden or gardening plays an integral role to the setting, characters and plot.

Here are two suggestions:

#1 The Secret Garden [2020]

This movie adaption of the 1911 children’s classic story by Frances Hodgson Burnett reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s paraphrased reflection on fairy tales: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

The medium of story and a momentary world of escapism help the characters to make sense of the real world with all its unfairness, pain, fear and sadness.

phot cred -

The movie’s setting starts with a prologue in colonial India, 1947, where we are introduced to Mary (Dixie Egerickx), the protagonist of the story. Orphaned, she is shipped home to England to stay in the care of her reclusive uncle, Lord Craven (Colin Firth), in Yorkshire, England.

The dark, haunting and sombre contrast of her new home, Misselthwaite Hall, and the magical and enchanting realism of the secret garden, (and the backstory memories of her mother), are the key ingredients for the movie’s storyline and the underlying emotional narrative.

The message is simple: “That’s the thing isn’t it. Loss changes people.”

This is our introduction to Colin Firth’s character and that of his son, and it is also the premise for Mary, a stray dog (whom she names Jemima), and her friend, Dickon, to transform all their lives and bring healing and hope through the discovery and wonder of a secret garden.

The coming of age lessons in the Secret Garden are gentle and memorable.

It is about not saying goodbye to childhood and the healing power of stories. It is about navigating a world of loss through the wonder of imagination. It is about escaping the ghosts of memory by embracing the captivating colours and magic of childhood. It is about abandoning what you had chosen to believe about the past and who you are. It is about not letting fear limit your joy. It is about friendship and hope and allowing memories to find the right place to land in your heart and mind.

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The tender and complex themes of grief and loneliness are sensitively interwoven with themes of compassion, curiosity and friendship, giving the movie a delightful charm as the visually magical secret garden becomes a character of its own and nurtures, heals and restores.

“The Secret Garden, as it always has, aims to open a gate for kids, a passage to a rejuvenating place that both validates and soothes adolescent fears too scary to handle unaccompanied.” -Tomris Laffly

We all need escapist moments of magic and wonder and The Secret Garden - in movie or book format - is exactly that.

Watch the trailer

#2 This Beautiful Fantastic [2017]

The title of the movie, This Beautiful Fantastic, is its best review; it is beautiful and fantastic. It is also charming and quirky and whimsical and delightful and endearing. Oh, and did I mention beautiful and fantastic?

Photo cred -

Idiosyncratic and orphaned Bella Brown - 'There was nothing normal about the girl' - dreams of writing and illustrating a children's book. By day she works at the library; her safe world surrounded by books.

When faced with eviction by her landlord for neglecting her garden, she meets her neighbour and nemesis, Alfie, a reclusive, embittered, grumpy and cantankerous old man, who just happens to be a horticulturist.

As their worlds and personalities clash, their friendship grows thanks to the delightful interactions of the supporting actors.

As Alfie opens up the world of wonder and beauty of flora to Bella, she opens up his heart to joy and love.

The dialogue between the characters is witty and sophisticated and the performances are heartwarming.

This Beautiful Fantastic has the feel of a real life fairy tale. The plot is predictable, but who cares when it is so beautiful and fantastic?

Watch the trailer


bottom of page