In 1898, Frances Hodgson Burnett rented Great Maytham Hall in Kent, a Downton Abbey-style manor with a walled kitchen garden. When Burnett moved in, the ivy on the walls was so overgrown that she couldn’t find the door to the garden. Finally, like Mary in The Secret Garden, a robin sitting on a nearby branch showed her where it was. After that, Burnett threw herself into fixing up the neglected grounds, planting flower gardens, putting in rose bushes, and improving the views. She wrote "In Connection with the DeWilloughby Claim" in the gazebo. Henry James was a neighbor.
Then, in 1908, the hall was sold and Burnett moved back to America. While there, her beloved English garden came back to her. Both it, and the robin, inspired The Secret Garden.