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1. The Secret Garden (The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett)
"There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees. There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselves. There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground...."
2. The gardens of Valinor, illuminated by the great Trees: silver Telperion and golden Laurelin (The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien)
"...and silence was over all the world in that hour, nor was there any other sound save the chanting of Yavanna. Under her song the saplings grew and became fair and tall, and came to flower; and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor.... The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves. The other bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches in clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a golden horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light."
3. Hester Gray's garden (Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery)
"Beyond were the "back fields" of the farms that ran out to the upper Carmody road. Just before them, hemmed in by beeches and firs but open to the south, was a little corner and in it a garden... or what had once been a garden. A tumbledown stone dyke, overgrown with mosses and grass, surrounded it. Along the eastern side ran a row of garden cherry trees, white as a snowdrift. There were traces of old paths still and a double line of rosebushes through the middle; but all the rest of the space was a sheet of yellow and white narcissi, in their airiest, most lavish, wind-swayed bloom above the lush green grasses."
4. Kilmeny's orchard (Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery)
"No house was in sight, but he found himself looking into an orchard; an old orchard, evidently long neglected and forsaken. But an orchard dies hard; and this one, which must have been a very delightful spot once, was delightful still, none the less so for the air of gentle melancholy which seemed to pervade it, the melancholy which invests all places that have once been the scenes of joy and pleasure and young life, and are so no longer, places where hearts have throbbed, and pulses thrilled, and eyes brightened, and merry voices echoed. The ghosts of these things seem to linger in their old haunts through many empty years."
5. The floating islands of Perelandra (Perelandra by C.S. Lewis)
"At long last he reached the wooded part. There was an undergrowth of feathery vegetation, about the height of gooseberry bushes, coloured like sea anemones. Above this were the taller growths—strange trees with tube-like trunks of grey and purple spreading rich canopies above his head, in which orange, silver, and blue were the predominant colours. Here, with the aid of the tree trunks, he could keep his feet more easily. The smells in the forest were beyond all that he had ever conceived. To say that they made him feel hungry and thirsty would be misleading; almost, they created a new kind of hunger and thirst, a longing that seemed to flow over from the body into the soul and which was a heaven to feel."
6. Moonacre Manor park (Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge)
"But before they had time to get really frightened they were out in the moonlight again, and in a place so beautiful that it seemed hardly to be of this world.
It was all silver. Upon each side of them the trunks of tall trees rose from grass so silvered by the moonlight that it glimmered like water. The trees were not thickly planted, and beautiful glades opened between them, showing glimpses of an ebony sky set with silver stars. Nothing moved. It was all quite still, as though enchanted under the moon. The silvery tracery of twigs and branches above the silver tree trunks was so delicate that the moonlight sifted through it like a fine film of silver dust."
7. Pemberley park (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
"They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste."
8. Heidi's alpine meadows (Heidi by Johanna Spyri)
"Thus the day had passed, and the sun was already sinking down behind the mountains. Sitting on the grass, Heidi looked at the bluebells and the wild roses that were shining in the last rays of the sun. The peaks also started to glow, and Heidi suddenly called out to the boy: 'Oh, Peter, look! everything is on fire. The mountains are burning and the sky, too. Oh, look! the moon over there is on fire, too. Do you see the mountains all in a glow? Oh, how beautiful the snow looks! Peter, the eagle's nest is surely on fire, too. Oh, look at the fir trees over there!'"
All right, not all of these are gardens, exactly... also, I think I should probably be including Rainbow Valley and Barney's island on Lake Mistawis, but I've already got two Montgomery works on here. :)
What are the best gardens—or appealing nature scenes—that you've come across in fiction?
There is a lovely and magical garden at Uncle Charles's Manor House, in Edith Nesbit's The Wonderful Garden, or The Three C.'s. Here's a link to it that Steve Morrison has made possible (over at The Hog's Head discussion forum):ReplyDelete
A woman after my own heart! I love gardening and beautiful gardens in general. What a terrific topic :)ReplyDelete
Awesome choice for a top 10 list! Of course, I am now realizing that I haven't read any books with "garden" in the title.ReplyDelete
Ithilien, the garden of Gonder, which even under the shadow of Mordor retains a shaggy loveliness.ReplyDelete
There's also the garden in the far west of Narnia, where Digory & Polly go to retrieve an apple on Aslan's command & where the Narnians return to at the end of The Last Battle.
And while it's not technically a garden, the hill of Cerin Amroth in Lothlorien where grow the golden elanor and pale niphredil.
Thanks, everyone! Carrie-Ann, I just downloaded the file and look forward to reading it. :D The little I've read of Nesbit's has been beautiful.ReplyDelete
Ooh, George, I forgot about Ithilien! And the garden in the far west, surprisingly. Was trying to think whether there was anything in Narnia, and couldn't recall. I did think of Cerin Amroth--I love Lothlorien, and just couldn't find a good descriptive quote about it, but it's so beautiful.
This is such a unique list choice! I love it! The quotes are great, too, so I can know more about the gardens I haven't read about yet. (I have to admit to not having read Perelandra. What kind of C. S. Lewis fan am I?)ReplyDelete
Thanks! I figured the gardens needed to speak for themselves.Delete
Ooh, you should definitely read Perelandra--the Space Trilogy is my favorite. :D Even over Narnia, I think.