You remember the book: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Here is a delectable excerpt from the chapter “Ben Weatherstaff”:
One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.
And it was like that with Colin when he first saw and heard and felt the Springtime inside the four high walls of a hidden garden. That afternoon the whole world seemed to devote itself to being perfect and radiantly beautiful and kind to one boy. Perhaps out of pure heavenly goodness the spring came and crowned everything it possibly could into that one place. More than once Dickon paused in what he was doing and stood still with a sort of growing wonder in his eyes, shaking his head softly.
As my journey continues to honor Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the next several posts will explore some of the hidden gardens in Dallas / Fort Worth: known and unknown.
One of my favorite Secret Gardens is in a little yellow house at the top of a driveway just off of Greenville Avenue, Sunshine Miniature Trees: greening Dallas in Asian sensibilities since 1965.
A wonderland of bonsai trees, jade plants, lucky bamboo and, recently, the rare Bodhi Tree (the tree of legend Siddhartha Guattama sat beneath when he reached spiritual enlightenment–and became the Buddha). This very special and delightful place is a dreamy circuit of rooms and walls of plants. The plants are imported from Asia, Central America and other regions and are potted in pots of whimsy, elegance and simplicity — there is a plant and a vessel for everyone.
The curatorial-like customer service pairs beautifully with the journey to this Secret Garden: the staff is impressively versed in the special maintenance these little works of art beget. An instruction sheet (creatively adorned with drawings) goes home with you and your new plant. You’re expertly brought into an up-sell to have exactly what you need to have this plant thrive: and that’s OK because this is a place where you want to give this new plant as much if not more love than Mr. Sunshine and his team. The responsibility is a privilege.
I hope this little shop stays around for a long, long time. Dallas needs more purveyors of an Asian aesthetic. We need green corridors in shaded light, a humid mist moving around a grove of small but mighty bonsai trees. We need to be able to get lost in these miniature worlds, to learn the painstaking art and joy of bonsai, to know the luck of authentic Lucky Bamboo. We need more places that slow us down. Sunshine Miniature Trees is a place to take your time, go deeply into this grove and leave with a miniature slice of nature.
In Asian philosophy nature and art cannot be distinguished. Sunshine Miniature Trees is a place to feel this, these trees are art and they are nature. Two artists are at play: the doting gardener and Mother Nature. In this wonderland behind the yellow door, venture in and meet them, and your big world on the outside of the yellow house will never be the same again.
Amy Lewis Hofland