The Secret Garden

Posted by on Jun 9, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Secret Garden
The groom passed over the bridge to the waiting wedding guests

    When I was twelve or so, one of my favorite books was The Secret Garden, a novel written by Frances Hobson Burnett in 1911.  I can ‘t relay all of the plot here, but it’s about a young girl, Mary.  At the beginning of the book Mary is unloved and unlovable.   She is emotionally troubled by the neglect and then subsequent death of her parents.  She is sent to live with an emotionally distant uncle at an estate in England.  There, she discovers an abandoned garden.  While tending that garden, Mary experiences a transformation, eventually acquiring friends and the eternal admiration of her aforementioned uncle.   It is a heartwarming tale. Indeed, the book is often noted as one of the best children’s books of the twentieth century. 

The wedding reception–lake in background
I was so into the book that a friend and I converted a little tract of land beside my house into our own secret garden.  We dug up ferns and moss and other forest greenery and transplanted those there, hoping to turn our little plot into something breathtaking.  Sadly the moss turned brown, and the ferns withered.  Still, The Secret Garden inspired in me a love for all things green.

  And that is why, perhaps, I was so taken by Gardens by Pat, a beautiful piece of land in Fluvanna, Virginia that Pat and her husband Richard lovingly and thoughtfully converted to gardens over a five year period.  There are paths to walk, a stream lined with hostas, and other water and shade loving plants, flower beds upon flower beds interspersed with areas of well tended lawns—and as a backdrop to it all, a large pond (or small lake—I’m not sure which!).  Talk about breathtaking!  This is The Secret Garden I dreamed of creating!  The pictures here do not do the place justice.

Pat and Richard are retired.  They consider the tending of their garden a joy and a privilege from what I could garner in my conversation with them.  They might even tell you that tending their garden has transformed them.  For sure it transforms visitors.  You worried or anxious?   Just try staying that way when you step onto that property. The grounds have healing properties, I tell you.    

Bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres in process
I first experienced Gardens by Pat last weekend when I officiated at a wedding.  The couple I married tells me that Pat and Richard were very attentive to their needs, opening their home to the wedding party at the rehearsal when there was a sudden downpour.  The following day, their kitchen was the caterer’s control center.   Pat and Richard only schedule one wedding  per weekend so the engaged couple was able to set up a tent and arrange tables and chairs on Friday evening and Saturday morning, for the wedding Saturday afternoon. Richard was a helpful and extremely friendly presence at the reception. Oh, and did I mention that Pat provided the flowers (from her gardens, of course) for the wedding?—the bride’s and bridesmaid’s bouquets, the mother of the bride’s and the mother of the groom’s corsages and the groomsmen’s boutonnieres? 

I’m not sure how well known Gardens by Pat is to engaged couples in  Richmond and Charlottesville—my feeling is that Richard and Pat are more into gardening than advertising.  You might call Gardens by Pat, then,  Virginia’s own Secret Garden.  But I say the secret needs to be out!  It’s an outdoor wedding venue that is reasonably priced, and near two good-sized cities–Richmond and Charlottesville.  For more information go to;  Address:  5254 Windsor Park Circle, Goochland County, Louisa, VA 23093; Phone:804-457-4535. 

Richard of Gardens by Pat

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