A fairy tale spot where Maeve can play, a princess presiding over teatime or a leisurely Sunday brunch. (Mary Carol Garrity/TNS)

Breakfast with a princess in the garden at Innisfree

What is there about having a granddaughter that makes life suddenly seem so magical, inviting your own inner child to come out and play? When Maeve entered our life, Dan and I were transfixed by her. The only grandchild in our family, she has gotten all the bright white light of grandparent love to herself.

So when we found out Kelly and Britt were going to live next door to us for a few weeks this summer, we felt like we had won the lottery. Imagine, all that Maeve time! We started imagining all we would do with her at our lake cottage this summer. Fishing off the dock. Playing in the yard with Lyric. Paddling in the old canoe. And, having special meals al fresco in one of my favorite outdoor rooms in our garden.

When I was little, playing make-believe was one of my favorite things to do. My mom was probably totally sick of me looting the pantry for canned goods for my pretend grocery store (the retail bug started early for me). So, when we were designing our garden at Innisfree, I wanted to create a fairy tale spot where Maeve could play, a princess presiding over teatime or a leisurely Sunday brunch.

That’s how this little nook in the hydrangeas came about. We planted a forest of hydrangeas near the edge of our yard, just above the lake. It’s an out-of-the-way spot, a hidden garden that welcomes visitors with its beguiling path of flagstones.

In June, when the flowers are in full bloom, it’s one of the most romantic spots you can imagine. Even though hydrangeas are one of my favorite fresh flowers to use in bouquets around my house, I cannot bear to cut them off these bushes.

I have to tell you, I actually buy the cut blooms from the florist. Crazy, right? So, here’s why: I am such an awful gardener, and my plant kill rate is so high, that I figure if a bush can not only survive me but also produce flowers, it is an endangered species and should be protected from flower bouquet harvesting.

This summer, I’d like to sneak away with Maeve to this little paradise for a special Sunday brunch. Any guest who has stayed overnight with Dan and me knows that it’s a rarity when we fix breakfast. You’re lucky to find some bread for toast.

So I will have to plan ahead and get a delectable spread of my favorite morning indulgences, like fresh baked pastries, crisp bacon, savory quiche.

As anyone who has ever done teatime with a little girl well knows, the secret is in the accoutrements. Fancy dishes, silverware, pretty glasses. And everything displayed with great care and finery. Only the best will do when you have a date with a pint-sized princess in the secret garden.

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This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com

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