The peculiar antics of Laurel (Hayley Mills), an emotionally troubled young girl, are the focus of The Chalk Garden - a stately household drama set on the cliffs of the English south coast. Edith Evans plays a matriarchal grandmother who, in raising her granddaughter, has neglected her other love - a barren chalk garden. Mayhem ensues as Laurel's behavior frightens away a succession of governesses until an enigmatic one (Deborah Kerr) is hired in spite of her mysterious references. She skillfully sets about tending to the girl's reckless emotions and the pitifully failed garden. John Mills (Hayley's real-life father) plays the compassionate butler working overtime to maintain order in this unpredictable environment.