The Garden

My mother was a child here, in the garden I used to make-believe was a world all mine. My cousins and I would gather by the fountain in the Japanese Garden outside my Nana's bedroom, wash our hands with magic, make our barbies' dance through the moss between the stones, pointing out fairies in the shadows of Torrey Pines.

My mother married my father in the garden after Christmas. She was twenty-one and he was twenty-four. She wore a cotton dress and no makeup and her father delivered the service under the arbor at the foot of the garden where today we have our Easter brunch.

...Where Archer and Fable gather at the mushroom fountain, soaking their hands and good shoes, wiping their fingers on my dress. Where life is busy being lived against the sun.

We hide eggs for the children in trees older than my mother. We pull back branches and flowers, placing delicately within them Archer's hand-dipped creations as my Nana tells the children to close their eyes.

"No peeking," she says.

And they listen. Because magic is worth more than knowledge ever was. Because it's much more fun to discover the truth for themselves. No shortcuts. No cheating. Someday there will be peeking out of fingers but not here. Not yet.

It's a wild garden. Wild like all things wonderful. Maintained by eighty-year-old hands unafraid of dirt under the fingernails. And the children smile and dance and kiss the flowers on their petaled faces with lips chapped from sun, their hair wild from eastern-blown winds, lightly salted, combed by sea with foam for fingers.

When we were children, we would play within the layers of garden for hours and days and weeks the summer long, naming flowers and tripping down cobblestones, tearing our dresses before brunch, Breyer horses in our hands, clip-clop, clip-clop, neiiiiiigh... We made believe until everything was possible. Until truth and fiction were related, cousins and sisters and brothers hidden beneath the the pergola, curling around our ankles like the sweet peas we picked and ate off the vine.

Twenty-five years later, nothing has changed. Except for the bodies that gather here. Flowers and faces reincarnated in baby ferns among the rotting wood.

I remember so much the feeling of being young. Flat-chested in my floral dress with my hair in bows and my sandals scuffed from not caring. And I watch my children, not as their mother but as someone who desires so much to rediscover the world without peeking first.

Show me what you see. Teach me what you know. Direct me toward the nearest fairy. Hold my hand and take me to the blue and purple eggs.

In the garden we are all tiny. Even my grandmother, who gets down in the dirt with the children. Even my teenage cousins who wield baskets in and out of paths, scattering wood chips with their giant shoes.

As a child I lied about the garden when I went outside its walls. Kept the fairies and the flowers and the stories to myself to keep them safe. The garden was a private place where only gnomes and birds could trespass. And my cousins. And my siblings. And me.

Some places never lose their magic. How grateful I am that all these years later, the garden remains as it is this Spring and always.

Ask my Nana why she built the garden and she will tell you ...for the children. And here we are, ageless, together, four generations of boys and girls finding ourselves and each other in new ways.

And we do. Stretched across swings, and among flowers, behind sunglasses and under the hats my Nana keeps in a pile by the door to prevent sunburn. On wood beams, surrounded by flowers overflowing and cracked Terra-cotta pots.

My mother is a child here, now. In this garden, all of us are -- budding year-round, even in the shade. Where time escapes through wooden gates and nothing exists beyond the rainbow of blooms that climb upward toward the sky.



Unknown | 7:04 AM

Wow. Just beyond lovely. What an awesome family treasure.

And your Nana sounds amazing.

Boston Mamas | 7:14 AM

What an utterly spectacular space. And such a gift that the generations can celebrate within it together. xo

Emily | 7:23 AM

My heart longs for such a garden as that. Your whole family has been blessed with this kind of magic!

MommyLisa | 7:30 AM

Fable is adorable!

I love your garden posts!

Lies | 7:30 AM

Woooaaa... I want a garden like that!!!
To be a child again together with my children, and later with my grandchildren. I believe in magic, I believe in fairytales, I believe in gnomes, if I want to... I want to go on a discovery trip with my precious children who are yet to be born. The first one is already on her way, let the magic begin...
Let me never forget what I want to do with my garden: build a home for fairies, for gnomes and children, and for all the other magic creatures of this world...

Natalie | 7:55 AM

what a wondrous a great legacy to leave future generations..:*)

Cave Momma | 7:59 AM

I loved this post, it brought tears to my eyes. Seeing these kinds of moments through your children's eyes is an amazing experience.

Your Nana sounds amazing.

Melissa | 8:20 AM

Loved this one, like @CaveMomma, it brought me to tears this morning.

My favorite part - "And I watch my children, not as their mother but as someone who desires so much to rediscover the world without peeking first."

Just beautiful - thank you.

Annika | 8:20 AM

I love Fable's dress so very much. Where did you get it?

Erin | 8:25 AM

Gosh, both Fable and Archer are gorgeous.

Jess Kiley | 8:31 AM

It takes a very modern mother to notice them ruining their good shows during play. Great pictures!!

robyn L. | 8:35 AM

So beautiful! The words, the pictures, the garden. You all are truly blessed to have such a place to gather.

marlene | 8:59 AM

I love this post. You all are so lucky to have such a magical place and an awesome Nana in your lives :)

mommica | 9:14 AM


I can't wait for the snow to go away (up to eight more inches expected today :() so we can start our garden at our new home!

JessicaToday | 9:21 AM

oh man rebecca, you have done it again. this is one of the really beautiful ones. well, technically they all are but some are just so achingly perfect that its goosebumps and tears the whole read.
you really need to be writing for a larger audience. your talent is just too too wonderful for only the hundreds that read your blog. the things you notice in life and the way you go about expressing their importance is beyond touching.
really, you are the most talented writer i have ever come across. period.

Anonymous | 9:34 AM

Gardens never fail to make children of us all

Amanda | 10:03 AM

This had me in awe. Gardens like your Nana's ARE magic, plain and simple. I'd kill to have brunch in such a lovely place with my family. How incredible it must feel to have grown such an amazing place that has enchanted so many.

Glenda | 11:15 AM

Beautiful post... beautiful writing... beautiful garden... beautiful children. Keep doing what you are doing! So happy for your new home. Can't wait to hear all about it once you are moved in and settled.

Ray | 11:22 AM

I adore your grandmother's magical garden!!! I wish to have one as beautiful some day, but one can only dream. You're such a beautiful storyteller. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for the wonderful photos as well. <3

How wonderful that Archer & Fable get to grow up in such a beautiful place. And I know you will love hearing their memories of the garden when they're older. ;o)

Kara | 1:14 PM

Absolutely gorgeous.

Anonymous | 1:15 PM

Lovely post. So magical.
Best of luck with the move!
Oh--my daughter has the same dress. She is 7 months old. Love Fable in it! For the reader who was wondering--it is from Target.

Rebecca | 1:55 PM

Everything is just too cute. I bet Fable would love I think that's the website, it teaches you how to use nature to build a fairy house to attract fairies.

Lauren Henderson | 4:19 PM



Thank you all for lovely words and yes, Fable's dress is Liberty of London for Target. I bought the entire line (pretty much) for her this summer. That dress was $13 if you can believe it and oh-so gorgeous.

Also, thank you for all the good wishes re: our move. I so so appreciate them!

Bridget | 5:55 PM

I bought out the whole store attempting to beautify my wardrobe! Love it!! She matches the garden.

Heather MacDonald | 7:50 PM

The only thing more beautiful and enchanting than the garden are the words written about it. Thank you for sharing your magic in more ways than one.

samantha | 10:09 PM

This post brought tears to my eyes. You are amazing . . . so are your words.

I wish I could have had a garden like that one growing up, and I wish that I could give something like that to my daughter. Luckily, she has enough imagination for the both of us.

Unknown | 11:38 PM

P.S. I love your new design! So fresh and airy and just wonderful.

Anonymous | 12:51 AM

Thank you for sharing your heaven. I feel lucky to have read this. It sounds like the place you'd love to end up, when all is said and done.

Also, I want to grow up to be like your Nana.

Annemarie | 1:52 AM

wow, what would i give having such an amazing garden!
we are right now building a house & garden so it´s really inspiring me.
thanks for sharing,

Camelia | 5:35 AM

Wonderful garden! I would like to be able to go there. Fable has turned into such a pretty little girl! she's so sweet!

Thilie | 5:42 AM

beautifully written! lovely pictures!
And I love the new blog design! it looks amazing! congrats :)

Maternal Mirth | 10:37 AM

Ooooooooh, me so likey!

Also, what kind of magical camera/photo program do you use? Dude, awesome pics...

Anonymous | 12:08 PM


I always feel ike I should be paying to read your blog. You inspire me in so many feels wrong that it's free.

Archer and fable are beautiful as always.

PS I had Matt (wherethestreetshaveyourname) photogragh my kids names recently. They are wonderful and I thank-you for passing along the info.

Unknown | 2:30 PM

LOVE the new design of your site. Elegant, clean and a perfect backdrop for your beautiful writing. Keep it UP!

spicylikeginger | 2:41 PM

You are so lucky to have such a garden in your family. I know you know you are. Thank you for sharing and for showing a glimpse.

Ray | 3:39 PM

I'm loving the masthead with Fable. So sweet! =D

Shnerfle | 3:59 PM

As always after reading your posts, I am left both in awe of your talent and horribly envious of it. And this time, I'm not sure whether I envy the talent or the inspiration more. That garden is truly magical. Tell the fairies I said "hi".

HaydEn | 4:02 PM

A fairy tale garden indeed...

Anonymous | 6:48 PM

Love the redesign- looks awesome.

Margie | 9:14 PM

Beautiful, just beautiful.

Elena from Greece | 12:36 AM

such a blessing to be surrounded by so much beauty.
i love the new format of your blog.
new home for family, new home for writing!

an other mother | 5:24 AM

Every child should be blessed with such an escape into the magical... it should be a right, an entitlement of youth. What a beautiful place.

littlerowboat | 8:11 AM

love the new website.
love this post.
your last post about your nana's garden inspired me to make a garden for ziya. full of different textures, colors and fun stuff to eat.

Loran | 8:30 AM

What an incredible garden! Such a gift for you all. Like the new look on the blog too.

Susana | 9:39 AM

Oh. This was just beautiful. I had (and still do) such a garden in daydreams. I hope to make another in the world, so O. can leave it to her grandchildren.
Tell your Nana someone in Portugal thinks she's a hero. Tell yourself that, too.

Rebecca | 6:13 PM

What a beautiful post. Reminds me of reading The Secret Garden when I was a child and imagining a magical place like that to call my own. What a gift your Nana has given to her family. You have also given us a gift. I love your word craft. You have quite a talent. Blessings to all of you,

Anonymous | 5:13 PM

This was so beautiful it made my heart break. Thank you for making my day.

Kristy | 7:19 AM

That post made me ball! That was awesome.


kittenpie | 6:25 AM

That just looks like magic. No wonder you found it there!

Anonymous | 8:27 AM

You certainly do have an amazingly spectacular space.
So awesome that you have been inspired to generously
and intentionally share it with your children and their
offspring just as God has blessed you with the ability
and stamina to keep such a treasure of nature going!rr