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Publisher's Summary

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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Author reading doesn't work

The book would be interesting to read, I think, but the narration is mind numbingly monotone and I just couldn't finish it.

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  • Claudia in Colorado
  • 2020-11-05

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.

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  • Joao G. D. Santos
  • 2020-11-12

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.