Is The Well-Gardened Mind the perfect book for our times?
Posted on 14/04/2020
How can getting outdoors, even for a short time, help us to look after our mental health?
In a powerful combination of contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and brilliant storytelling, The Well Gardened Mind (click to buy) investigates the magic that many gardeners have known for years… working with nature can radically transform our health, wellbeing and confidence.
— Prisoners given the chance to grow plants are less likely to reoffend.
— At-risk young people who get their hands in the soil are more likely to stay in education.
— Elderly people who garden live longer and have a better quality of life
Sue Stuart-Smith, prominent psychiatrist and wife of Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer, tells brilliant, illuminating stories of people struggling with stress, depression, trauma and addiction, from asylum seekers to veterans, inner-city young people to the retired. You can listen to Sue talk on Radio 4’s Start the Week about it here.
This is a glorious book of science, insight and anecdote that shows how our understanding of nature and its restorative powers is only just beginning to flower.
‘The wisest book I’ve read for many years. Such a captivating blend of knowledge, practicality, insight, experience and truthfulness is very rare. Much more than a gardening book, much more than a guide to better mental health, it is a wholly convincing story of how troubled minds might find a way of reconnecting to themselves and rebuilding confidence and hope by way of nature. Everything Dr. Stuart Smith says about the mind (and I’ve learned so much in the way of the history of psychiatry and psychology as well as practical tips for both mind and garden) has the ring of authenticity and truth. Hugely recommended.’
‘A compelling and deeply moving account of how profoundly our wellbeing can be affected through contact with gardening and the natural world. This is a timely call of return. Read it.’
EDMUND DE WAAL
‘An important and timely book … Sue Stuart-Smith’s book is beautifully written drawing on a lifetime’s experience as both as a clinician and a gardener, and I urge everyone to read it’
‘Riveting, inspiring and often very moving, Sue Stuart-Smith’s journey into the therapy of gardening reveals just how deep our connection with nature is, how much we risk when we cut ourselves off from it, and how much we can gain from its restorative power. A lively, compassionate exhortation for us all to get our hands back in the soil.’
‘A book so wise and comfortable that The Well-Gardened Mind merits a place alongside Christopher Lloyd’s The Well-Tempered Garden by the side of every bed… Her writing has the simple grace of someone who really knows her subject and how best to explain it… Her deep understanding of the human psyche makes this a perfect source text as well as an engrossing read.’
Why it’s important you buy books now and don’t wait until COVID-19 is over
The book trade – like all non-essential retail, but particularly a section that has seen struggles over the last decade or two – is in desperate need of help. Your help.
There are easy online alternatives to Amazon if you’re worried about ethical issues – though we also recognise that economic factors mean some bookbuyers can’t afford to be choosy. Audible and Kindle are cheaper than a new HB, and in lockdown, both are sensible choices. But if you want to read the physical book and hold it in your hands then buy or pre-order with free P&P plus a discount from:
Hive donate to help keep local indies alive and thriving, and Blackwells are an Oxford institution with one of the best online services in the game. Worthy causes.
Buy books. Help bookshops stay open. Allow writers to continue writing the books you love.