Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 10, 2024
March 3, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Inside the secret garden, Mary finds a great many rosebushes, and standard roses that have been allowed to grow as large as trees; the flowerless vines of climbing roses have overgrown all else, and make lovely curtains in the air. It is a strange and silent place, for no one has entered it for ten years; Mary thinks it must be very different from gardens that have not been so abandoned. Since it is winter, everything in the garden has gone brown or gray, and Mary cannot be certain whether the flora are dead or alive. She fiercely hopes that everything in the garden has not died.
Mary feels that the garden is "a world all her own," and that there might be no one at all alive for hundred of miles—and yet she is not lonely while she is there. She finds a few green shoots pushing up through the earth, eager for spring. Mary is quite thrilled at the thought that something is still living in the garden, and sets about weeding the space around these early flowers, so that they might grow more quickly. She occupies herself with this weeding all day.
That night, at the manor, Mary asks Martha for tools to help her in gardening. Martha tells Mary to write a letter to Dickon: he would certainly agree to buy tools and flower seeds on one of his trips to Thwaite, the village nearby. Mary writes the letter, and is very excited by the idea that Dickon will bring the supplies to her himself—she had never expected to see the boy whom even the animals adore. Martha also mentions that her mother has agreed to have Mary visit the cottage, and Mary realizes that she is eager to meet her as well, for "She doesn't seem to be like the mothers in India." When Martha briefly steps out of the room, Mary hears the same far-off crying as she did during the storm. Martha again refuses to admit that she too hears the sound, and flees the room to avoid answering Mary's questions.
The secret garden has the same fairy-tale quality that permeates the rest of the novel. The flowers within it have grown into "curtains," as if guided by an innate intelligence; the word "curtains" suggests both the veiling of a mystery (the keeping of a secret) and, contradictorily, the placement of the garden on a stage of its own making. This symbolizes the garden's new status as an "open secret," one that Mary now knows.
The secret garden, at this point in the novel, is strongly aligned with both Mary and the late Mistress Craven. Mary is ten years old, and the garden has been closed for ten years. Up to the moment that she steps foot into the garden, Mary too is closed off—she has loved no one, and has been utterly unloved. Because it has been so long since anyone has tended the garden, it is impossible to determine whether its flowers are dead or alive. Similarly, Mary has had no one to care for her since her birth, and has become waxen (of a lifeless color) and standoffish as a result. No one is sure whether she is really a little girl at all; Ben Weatherstaff, Martha, and Mrs. Medlock all refer to her as an "old woman."
Since Mary and the garden are so closely symbolically related, the reader realizes that the reawakening of the garden may foreshadow and effect Mary's own reawakening. This implication is strengthened by Mary's tending of the living green shoots in the garden. Though she knows nothing about gardening, she clears space around them because it seems that "they do not have enough room to [breathe and] grow"; this description can be likened to Mary's own experience of being moved from India to the wide-open spaces of the moor. She, too, has been given room to breathe. Her tending of the green shoots also recalls the play- gardening she did in India; now, instead of sand and cut flowers that have no hope of thriving, Mary has been given living plants in a real garden. Once again, England is aligned with life and wakefulness, and India with death and sleep.
Mary is instantly concerned for the garden's well-being; she thinks, "She did not want it to be a quite dead garden. If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side!" The roses are Mistress Craven's personal symbol; they are mentioned whenever she is mentioned. The garden is still flooded with rose-trees and rosebushes, though none are in bloom; Mary remarks to herself, "Even if the roses are dead, there are other things alive." This, along with the quote above, indicates that the reawakening of the garden may bring the spirit of Mistress Craven back to it - she exists wherever roses are in bloom. At the same time, this passage subtly condemns Master Craven for letting the garden fall into ruin in the first place: even if his wife (the roses) is dead, life must still go on. This notion becomes extremely important in later chapters, after the introduction of Colin Craven. This chapter also foreshadows the crucial role Dickon will play in the rebirth of both Mary and the secret garden: it is Dickon who will bring her the tools and seeds that she requires to make the garden "come alive."
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Secret Garden!