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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

the-forgotten-garden The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton begins with a 4 year old arriving alone on a dock in Australia with only a few belongings in a small white suitcase.  When the man who found and cared for her dies, an older Nell is given the suitcase.  Within it is a book of fairy tales written by the woman who put her on the boat.  Join Nell, and then her granddaughter Cassandra, on a journey to England and a cottage on a cliff to unravel the mystery of her past.

Book Club Ideas

What to Wear

The initial plan was to have a garden party before storms blew in just before everyone arrived.   So flower dresses, floral shirts and garden hats were worn by some of us.  But I was not prepared for the fairies that walked in the door…they looked awesome!

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden


Jo also submitted some very creative decorating ideas, including a white suitcase with a book of fairy tales.

For our book club party for The Forgotten Garden,  vignettes of the fairy tales were sprinkled throughout the garden and the guests had to try to figure out which of Eliza’s fairy tales it represented.

For The Crone’s Eyes (page 95) I decorated with a fairy princess, a fawn and two eye bouncy balls in a jar as well as a figurine of a well (I love Goodwill!).

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton, pink roses, deer, fairy

The Crone’s Eyes

Decorations for The Changeling (page 285) included a bird cage from Annie that I painted with gold metallic paint, a bird and gold pieces.

The Changeling by Eliza Makepeach from The Forgotten Garden

The Changeling

For The Golden Egg fairy tale I found a Christmas ornament with a golden egg from Garden Ridge (I think this is primarily a local store.  You can probably find a similar one wherever Christmas decorations or sold).   I was roaming through Ross when I found the statue in the picture.  I was way across the store when I could just make out an angel and a little girl.  I squinted my eyes…what are they holding…a book?  A book of fairy tales?  I ran over there as fast as I could afraid someone grab this treasure before I could get to it.

The Golden Egg by Eliza Makepeace from the Forgotten Garden

The Golden Egg

I also decorated the garden with fairies and a little boy angel (page 521) that I found at Goodwill. (By the way, whenever I am planning a book club party I always start at Goodwill or Salvation Army…it is amazing the treasures you can find on the shelves there.)

Fairy, The Forgotten Garden


The forgotten garden

Eliza Makepeace as a Fairy

The Forgotten Garden


A flower arrangement for a table setting could include Rose’s welcome home gift when she arrived from New York (page 368).   Eliza selected plants that were a symbol of their bond – Ivy for friendship, pink rose for happiness, oak leaf geranium for memories.    She tied the bouquet with a pink satin ribbon torn from her hem.

Book Club Menu

Every book should mention Prosecco (page 171) so we can serve it at every book club party!   Some bottles of Prosecco were placed in a plantar full of ice and some were used to make a Golden Apple Sangria.

prosecco, wine glasses

wine, champagne, roses

A big pot was filled with basketballs and volleyballs then topped off with ice to keep the water bottles cool.

water in plantar,the forgotten garden

I did not want to have to make teapots of tea (and most of us don’t drink hot tea…iced tea loaded with sugar is the drink of choice in Texas) so I set up my coffee maker so people could make their own tea.  I arranged Earl Grey K-cups and English Breakfast tea bags in the shape of a flower (you put the tea bag in the cup and just run hot water through the coffee maker).

Tea party, The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Forgotten Garden English Breakfast, Earl Grey

Golden apples in an urn (something I found in the bulk trash at my neighbor’s house…don’t tell my husband) represent the apple tree in the forgotten garden.  Nuts, seeds and fruit plates made to look like flowers provided snacks as well as decoration.   The table was also decorated with candy roses made from melting wafers and a rose candy mold.

Fruit plate, nuts, apples,candy roses

Shortly after setting up the table above the wind kicked up, the sky darkened and then the clouds let loose.  So much for a garden party!

That’s okay,  Golden Apple Sangria was waiting for us in the refrigerator inside.  This is made with Prosecco, a little brandy and loads of fruit.  The ice cubes in the sangria were made with apple cider and flower and leaf silicone baking molds.

Golden Apple Sangria with lime

The food eaten in The Forgotten Garden consisted mainly of stew and broth.  It is way too hot in Texas in September to have a hot soup, so I made a cold soup instead.  I also challenged myself to make food shaped like flowers.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Bell Pepper Flower

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Club Resources


  • “Morton whisks the reader into scene after vivid scene, sometimes frightening us, often perplexing us, and always providing us with a great deal of entertainment.”—Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX)
  • “Often, when a book jumps narrators, the reader is invested in some stories more than others.  In this case, I was equally enthralled by every plotline.  I devoured this book, savoring each word that Morton gave me.  I can’t describe how much I enjoyed the process of reading The Forgotten Garden.” – S. Krishna’s Books
  • “What I loved about this atmospheric, fairytale-like novel was that Morton tells the story of these different, but connected, women, but she doesn’t give everything up right away. I tried to guess at the mystery many times, but ultimately my guesses were never correct. The characters are well developed, and although it takes a little while to get into the story, this is an excellent novel, filled with old houses and hidden gardens with secrets and surprises.” – A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

About Kate Morton

Kate-Morton  Kate Morton was born in South Australia.  She studied in Speech and Drama at Trinity College London and graduated from the University of Queensland with First Class Honors in English Literature and a Masters degree focusing on tragedy in Victorian literature. Read more at Kate Morton’s web site

A Couple Photos from Our Party

The forgotten garden, kate morton

The Forgotten garden book club party

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Feel free to add your ideas, comments or book review below.

  1. Submitted by: jo
    jo’s Book Club: The Biznatches
    Located In: Newbury Park, CA

    2010/09/10 at 1:36 pm

    I worked on my book table today for our Forgotten Garden book club party. As I was shopping at thrift stores in the area I found a perfect little old white suitcase for $5 (great find) purchased a little white dress and black shoes at the same store for $1. Then I went to a used book store to find a old used book of fairy tales. Added some leaves and wala.

    As another thought I just ordered two dwarf apple trees that are 2 -3 feet tall and are already producing little apples. They cost about $15, but should make for nice table decorations.

    The Forgotten Garden White Suitcase

    Comment by Reader Submissions

  2. Submitted by Jo from Newbury, CA

    2010/09/10 at 1:34 pm

    We are having our party on the 30th of Sept. I have gone to thrift shops around our area and purchased antique looking broochs for as little as $2 – $4 each. About 10 days before our party, I plan to send everyone a brooch with an attached note that reads:
    This brooch that you have received has been previously owned, so it may also possess a secret story to be uncovered. This story may not be as fascinating or captivating as the one in, Kate Morton’s, the Forgotten Garden, but a story all the same. I was hoping that in the spirit of Nell’s and Cassandra’s adventure we could don these trinkets for just one evening (September 30th) as we gather to discuss the events that took place at Blackhurst Manor.

    The Forgotten Garden Invitations

    Comment by Reader Submissions

  3. Submitted by: Jo
    Jo’s Book Club: The Biznatches
    Located In: Newbury Park, CA

    2010/08/31 at 9:06 pm

    Hi there,

    Hosting a book club meeting on Sept. 30th. and was looking for some ideas. One idea I had was in about a week send out to all members a package of mixed wild flower seed along with a hand written note on floral stationary expressing my hope that they are enjoying the read and reminder of upcoming meeting.
    The Forgotten Garden Seeds
    Forgotten Garden Seeds

    Comment by Reader submissions

  4. Awesome ideas, Jo!! We would love to see some pictures from your book club party this upcoming weekend.

    Comment by Lisa

  5. Thank you Lisa for a memorable evening!

    Comment by Annie

  6. I showed up early to help Lisa get ready for the party. When I arrived she was rolling dough for her pastys and tarts. I just had to share this photo of her at work….

    Comment by Marilyn

  7. I really should invest in an apron…and put it on backwards

    Comment by Lisa