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“might i have a bit of earth?”

faerie tale feet gouache & ink painting inspired by frances hodgson burnett’s the secret garden.

“of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

i knew my faerie tale feet series needed a secret garden piece. and it’d been stewing around in my mind for years. until i finally reread it. and reread it again. and read the annotated version (seen above next to my childhood copy!) and of course it still turned out differently than i had envisioned it. which means there is always room for a garden to grow. again.

upon my re-read, you see the brilliance more clearly. the kids don’t seem as annoying. and the connections and foreshadowing that were impossible to see without 20/20 vision are evident and blissfully woven through frances hodgson burnett’s tale.

she never wrote anything that was rejected by a publisher. and while her own health and family life suffered for her frenetic writing habits, we are left with this gift of literature.

the mystical power of nature and growth to revive the soul, cure depression, give hope, and teach our hearts to live even amidst the painful losses and memories.

i appreciate the unconscious references to jane eyre & wuthering heights (we are what we read, no?), and i still find the funniest bit to be when mary and colin are pretending that he’s still sick and ordering the house staff around. :)

“as long as you have a garden, you have a future, and as long as you have a future you are alive.”

~in the garden, by frances hodgson burnett.

have a look at the painting process below and then i’ll share all the story symbolism i included in my piece and some favourite quotes from the book!

so here are all the story icons you’ll find in the background:

  • mrs. medlock’s bonnet (with purple silk flowers!)

  • the robin

  • the garden key

  • captain, dickon’s fox cub. (he’s surrounded by 7 different animals at any given time!)

  • ben weatherstaff’s spade and shovel (also the tools dickon brings to mary)

  • soot, dickon’s crow

  • the jumprope, a gift from martha’s mother

  • seed packets (with a variety of the 19+ flowers mentioned as being in the garden!)

  • ivory elephants (mary begins her story in india)

  • tea pot (the garden picnics)

  • gold pen (uncle archibald craven’s gift to mary)

  • basket (susan sowerby’s means of fattening up the kids)

  • and of course there’s mary’s shoes (pretending to be a prim & proper little lady when not in the secret garden) and a rose bush ready to be planted (definite significance for colin’s family)

i think that’s it, but let me know if you find more! ;D

and, as always, let me leave you with some memorable quotes from the book and our author:

  • “it seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. the few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories.”

  • “don’t let us make it tidy,” said mary anxiously. “it wouldn’t seem like a secret garden if it was tidy.”

  • “is there anything you want?” as if a sudden thought had struck him. “do you want toys, books, dolls?”
    ”might i,” quavered mary, “might i have a bit of earth?”

  • “you are real, aren’t you?” he said. “i have such real dreams very often. you might be one of them.”

  • “i should not mind fresh air in a secret garden.”

  • “i’ve seen the spring now and i’m going to see the summer. i’m going to see everything grow here. i’m going to grow here myself.”

  • of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

  • “i will try to find the key,” he said. “i will try to open the door. i must— though i don’t know why.”

  • “Magic is the bringing about of unbelievable things through an obstinate faith that nothing is too good to be true.” ~FHB

  • “as long as you have a garden you have a future, and as long as you have a future you are alive.” ~FHB

 
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signed limited edition reproductions coming soon to halthegal.etsy.com

contact me if you’re interested in collecting the original framed painting!