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Secret Garden Spring Rolls & The Secret Garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth,” said Mary. “If the garden was a secret and we could get into it we could watch the things grow bigger every day, and see how many roses are alive. Don’t you see? Oh, don’t you see how much nicer it would be if it was a secret?”

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote these words in her beloved novel, The Secret Garden. Considered a classic of children’s literature, The Secret Garden has likely played an impactful role in many childhoods as the story is filled with fantasy, imagination, magic, and secrets. Since it was fully published in 1911, The Secret Garden has been adapted into films and plays.

Whether on stage, on screen, or on paper, The Secret Garden is a story about Mary Lennox, a spoiled, troubled, and recently orphaned child who moves from India where she was raised to live in her uncle’s manor in Yorkshire, England. During her time at the manor, Mary learns from her chambermaid, Martha, about the many secrets in and surrounding the house. One of these secrets is a walled garden that blends in with nature, hiding in plain sight.

The story itself is whimsical, mysterious, and full of adventure, and so is the 1993 film adaptation. Filled with loss, love, and healing, The Secret Garden demonstrates the power of finding a purpose – in Mary’s case, restoring the forgotten garden – and blossoming into an improved version of yourself.



Inspired by spring and The Secret Garden, I aimed to create something that represented freshness and the delight of discovering beauty. In this case, I decided to make a garden of secret ingredients wrapped in rice paper with these Secret Garden Spring Rolls. Wild violets peer through the clear rice paper, alluding to the wild flowers that grow in untamed gardens. Inside of the spring roll you’ll discover crunchy, delicious ingredients such as beets, peppers, dandelion greens, carrots, cabbage, and micro sunflower greens.

The great thing about the Secret Garden Spring Roll is that you can play with the colors, design, flowers, and vegetables that get wrapped up. Each “garden” roll will be unique, but they will all be equally tasty. Not only is this a beautiful roll to place on a dish, but it is one of the most convenient ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. While watching The Secret Garden, take a bite into spring with these spring rolls and Secret Dipping Sauce. And now I’ll leave you with another Frances Hodgson Burnett quote because her writing is too beautiful to just quote once: “And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”


Secret Garden Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 8-10 spring rolls
  • Print


Secret Garden Spring Rolls*

8-10 small or medium-sized rice paper wrappers
24-30 edible flowers
1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
1 small head purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1.5 cups micro sunflower greens
1.5 cups micro baby red rib dandelion

*Any of these ingredients can be substituted for vegetables of your choice! These measurements and serving sizes are based on small rice paper wrappers.

Secret Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons peanut oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce


Secret Garden Spring Rolls

1. Set up your workspace with a damp cheesecloth over it, which will help prevent the wet rice paper from sticking.

2. Fill a medium sized bowl with warm water. Soak the rice paper in the water for 5-10 seconds and place on the cheesecloth in a circle.

3. Place the edible flowers face-down in the center of the rice paper wrapper. Add the remaining ingredients of choice on top, laying the vegetables on top of each other. The vegetables should take up the bottom half of the wrapper, with 1-1.5 inches of space at the bottom for rolling.

4. When ready to roll, fold the right and left sides of the wrapper in toward the center. Then, fold the bottom part of the wrapper up and over the vegetables. Keep the vegetables tight in the center, and roll the wrapper until you reach the top and the wet rice paper sticks together. Repeat for each spring roll.

Secret Dipping Sauce

1. Mix ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, or whisk together in a bowl.

© A Dash of Cinema

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Food Images by Lauren Jessen


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  • Alison's Wonderland Recipes
    May 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    OH MY GOSH THESE ARE SO PRETTY! I’ve never seen flowers used in spring rolls before. Is that a thing? If not, everyone should do it from now on.

    P.S. The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books. I love the way Hodgson-Burnett uses an evolution of plain to hearty foods to show the strengthening of Mary’s spirit through the story. I actually made a menu for it last year:

    • adashofcinema
      May 3, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Thank you! I agree, everyone should do it! It’s delicious and beautiful – the flowers make it special.

      Your menu for The Secret Garden is AMAZING! Love that observation and the food you made for the book.