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Publisher's Summary

One of Garden & Gun’s Favorite Books of 2020  

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 listen for people seeking healthier mental lives.

©2020 Sue Stuart-Smith. Originally published in Great Britain in 2020 by William Collins. Excerpt from “The Garden” in Chapter 9 is reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Group Ltd, London, on behalf of The Beneficiaries of the Estate of Vita Sackville-West. © Vita Sackville-West 1946. Excerpt from “Hold out your arms” in Chapter 10 is reproduced with permission. Helen Dunmore, Counting Backwards: Poems 1975–2017 (Bloodaxe Books, 2019). © Helen Dunmore 2017. (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

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Fascinating book about mental health and gardening

I loved this book. The performance is sometimes stilted but the material makes up for it. There are great ideas here for mental health professionals and gardeners alike.

3 people found this helpful

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Fabulous book

I am interested in all aspects that this book covered from gardening, nature, mental health and history from veterans of war to Freud to St. Hildegard of Bingen to Wordsworth and more! It’s quite impressive what she covers. You do not, however, need to be a gardener to enjoy this book. I listened to it and read the hard copy as I wanted to take in more and review what Sue Stuart Smith writes about so meticulously and beautifully. I always prefer books read by the author as there is an element of heart that often seems missing if one hasn’t a good reader or is not the writer. Her voice is soothing and lovely. I’m going to listen again! Loved it in so many ways.

2 people found this helpful

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Much Needed for Society

Everyone needs to read this book. It’s a great documentation of how we all need nature amd gardening for our own health.

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The Well-Gardened Mind

This book was recommended by a Climate Reality Leader colleague, and it was splendid.
I strongly recommend to everyone who wants to heal yourself and why not other people's minds.

1 person found this helpful

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Tremendous insight into the power of gardening

The book is nothing like I anticipated - it is much better. I anticipated a dry book on gardening and the mind. However, the stories combined with historical antidotes, made the book alive with insight that I embraced as someone who has gardened off and on for forty years but in 2020, embraced it like never before.

The stories, success, and insight along with the excellent narration, made the book more than anticipated. I highly recommend this book.