The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature
As a self-certified plant lady, I recognize the benefits of surrounding myself with greenery, especially in the cold and dreary winter months. But now that it's spring, I'm turning my attention to the garden outside. This meditative exploration of the power of gardening from a professional psychiatrist inspired me to spend more time digging in the dirt and tending to my outdoor plants as a way to feel grounded. Stuart-Smith explains the connection between gardening with your hands and soothing your anxious mind with examples from her own gardening journey, her grandfather's post-WWI healing, and progressive prison gardening programs. I enjoyed the combination of research and practical gardening tips and feel inspired to try some new planting projects soon.
A distinguished psychiatrist and avid gardener offers an inspiring and consoling work about the healing effects of gardening and its ability to decrease stress and foster mental well-being in our everyday lives.
The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the “real” life that lies outside. But when we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal. Gardening is one of the quintessential nurturing activities and yet we understand so little about it. The Well-Gardened Mind provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people’s lives. Here, Sue Stuart-Smith investigates the many ways in which mind and garden can interact and explores how the process of tending a plot can be a way of sustaining an innermost self.
Stuart-Smith’s own love of gardening developed as she studied to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. From her grandfather’s return from World War I to Freud’s obsession with flowers to case histories with her own patients to progressive gardening programs in such places as Rikers Island prison in New York City, Stuart-Smith weaves thoughtful yet powerful examples to argue that gardening is much more important to our cognition than we think. Recent research is showing how green nature has direct antidepressant effects on humans. Essential and pragmatic, The Well-Gardened Mind is a book for gardeners and the perfect read for people seeking healthier mental lives.