Secret Garden Camp – (part 1 of 3)

 A Bit of Earth

GrOur own “Mary and Dickon” unlocking the door to The Secret Garden at Thanksgiving Point Gardens

“Can I have a bit of earth?” – Introduction

One of my favorite Grandma’s Camps was Secret Garden Camp, which of course, was centered around the book by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I love the movie adaptations as well. Not many of my grandchildren had read it, so we watched the movie the night before our camp really started and talked about the parts we loved. Actually, the preteen boys hated the movie–but they loved the camp.

There are three parts to the book A Secret Garden that I chose to use for activities in this camp: Gardening, Character Values, Mystery.


I used a few books to get ideas (see here for those resources). For this post I’ll focus on the hands on gardening activity.

Mary and Dickon discoverying the secret gardenDiscovering the Secret Garden

After Mary discovers the garden that has been shut up for 10 years, she asks her uncle for “a bit of earth”. He tells her to take it anywhere, so she takes that as permission to care for the secret garden.

“A bit of earth?” – Gardening Prep

In my side yard, I had previously tilled a section for the Secret Garden Camp. Before we could plant, we talked about how to prepare for creating a garden.

  • TOOLS – Buckets with garden gloves, a spade, a garden fork, and a package of seeds were given to each child.
  • DIVIDE & TEAM UP – The children were paired–one older child and one younger one–into gardening teams to prepare, plan and plant their portion of the garden.
  • SHOPPING – Each team was given some money and we went shopping for plants and things.  I had separated some flowers in my yard, such as daisies and irises, that they could choose to plant in their garden, and they had flower seeds, or they could buy all new plants and flowers. –Two of my grandsons decided they wanted to buy things instead of flowers. They would use the plants at home and that way they could spend their money on more manly things like an ornamental garden squirrel and a cactus!
The two busy kids by the pond were supposed to be helping Weston.

Planning and planting their “bit of earth.” The two little ones playing in the pond are supposed to be helping with the planting.


‘To plant things. To make things grow.” 

Back to my yard, we learned how to plant a garden in two basic steps–with a secret mixed in.

  • TURNING THE SOIL and mixing some mulch into it.
  • PLANTING the flowers and seeds the children had chosen.

For extra fun, I had previously buried some items into the areas they would be digging such as a small ceramic figurine, an old fork, a tube of lipstick (remember the lipstick in the movie/book Holes?),…


…and an envelope which held a key and a cryptic note inside. This went along with the mystery part of The Secret Garden story and I hooked their interest for their own Grandma’s Camp secret to uncover later.

Secret Garden Envelop


“Open, and awake, and alive.”

Around the side yard waterfall, with its tiny stream and wading pool, each garden plot was planted and signs were placed for whose garden it was. My grand kids’ bits of earth results were adorable!

One thought on “Secret Garden Camp – (part 1 of 3)

  1. Grandma Dottie, This is intrique at its best, in addition, to being sweet, lovely and, indeed, very CUTE. Is there any child who would not jump at the chance to enter this ‘Secret Garden’? I am not a child, nor do I have any idea what the “code talk” below is all about., but I would defintely be in line, ticket in hand, eyes wide open, anticipating this trip to “Narnia” via the magical wardrobe.

    Your superblog, Dot, is perfectly Enchanting in its creative combination of fantasy and technologyl I love your quotes and references to movies and literature. Tuck Everlasting may also be inside awaitng our frenzied arrival! Great job, Ms. Dorothea.

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