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The Well Gardened Mind

The Well Gardened Mind

by Sue Stuart-Smith

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"Ver Mirabilis"

Viewed from a purely private garden perspective, this has been a ver mirabilis. The blossom has been wonderful and long-lasting, the sun has shone on the daffodils and tulips, and there has been enough moisture in the ground for impressive growth in trees, shrubs and vegetables. Thanks to lockdow...

 I feel as if I have watched every leaf unfurl, every flower open, every bird swoop across the lawn. Spring gardening, with its pleasant, mindful monotony of pricking out seedlings and pulling up speedwell, has soothed my nerves, consoled my sadness, calmed my fears, and brought a welcome sense o...

None of this has come as a surprise to me, or anyone else I know who puts their hands in the soil. After all, people have believed for centuries that gardening is a therapeutic endeavour, beneficial and healing to body, mind and spirit. That is why there are dozens of charities running worthwhile...

Now, thanks to Sue Stuart-Smith and The Well Gardened Mind, we have the intellectual underpinning for our instinctive response. The author is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and keen gardener, who has spent years investigating why it is that gardening and nature are so good for our mental and phy...

Despite some awkward sentences, this is a readable and blessedly comprehensible account which, considering the complexity of much of the subject matter, especially to do with the brain, is an impressive achievement. It contains, au fond, both a very personal and a universal narrative. The author’...

The way he recovered his physical strength and mental balance was with serious gardening, and she was later a witness to that success. Widening the focus, she writes of the gardens made in Western Front trenches and in Syrian refugee camps. She connects the theoretical to the everyday, with the h...

One of her recurring themes is that for almost all our history, humans have been hunter-gatherers, foragers and, at least since the late Paleolithic era, gardeners, and this history has shaped how our brains and psyches function. Moreover, we early acquired an aesthetic sense in our garden-making...

Her conclusions on the baleful effects of urbanisation and human isolation are uncomfortable but, despite all, this is an optimistic book, for she points to solutions as well as problems. What she writes will resonate with any reader who has tended so much as a windowsill basil plant or suffered ...

I now accept (although I would have hotly denied it at the time) that my decision to train as a professional gardener — not the most obvious career choice for a Cambridge history graduate — stemmed from a desire to escape the disabling, bottled-up grief I experienced after my mother’s early death...

As she puts it:

“In tending a plot and nurturing and caring for plants, we are constantly faced with disappearance and return. The natural cycles of growth and decay can help us understand and accept that mourning is part of the cycle of life, and that when we can’t mourn it is as if a ...

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“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.” ― Hans Rosling

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