How can getting outdoors help us to look after our mental health?
In a powerful combination of contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and brilliant storytelling, The Well Gardened Mind 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 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.
This is a book of science, insight and anecdote that shows how our understanding of nature and its restorative powers is only just beginning to flower.
Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind. She studied English literature at the University of Cambridge before qualifying as a doctor and working in the National Health Service for many years, becoming the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She currently teaches at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London and is a consultant at DocHealth, a not for profit, psychotherapeutic consultation service for doctors. She is married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer, and, over thirty years together, they have created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertfordshire. Her book, The Well Gardened Mind, analyses the relationship between gardening and mental health.
"Must be the most original gardening book ever"
– Sunday Times
"Fascinating [...] Extends the awareness – backed up by compendious and elegant research – of how mentally enriching it is to swap screen for green [...] [She] renders a very special service with this book"
"Stuart-Smith's beautifully written book is filled with insights into the joys but also the therapeutic benefits that tending plants can offer [...] This is a life-affirming study of the pleasures of growing things"
"Combines observation, horticulture, literature and history [...] it is a book that builds, chapter by chapter [...] As a reference and an inspiration [...] There is much here to feed the soul"
– The Times
"An impressive achievement [...] this is an optimistic book"
"A truly uplifting book on the power of gardening – and how it can change people's lives. It's a prevailing reminder that getting our hands in the soil and helping to grow plants and flowers makes all the difference to our minds and wellbeing"
"A fascinating overlap between the still stumbling science of psychiatry and the ancient art of gardening"
– Financial Times
"The wisest book I've read for many years [...] Much more than a gardening book, much more than a guide to mental health [...] Hugely recommended"
– Stephen Fry
"An important and timely book [...] Beautifully written, drawing on a lifetime's experience as both a clinician and a gardener, and I urge everyone to read it"
– Monty Don
"Riveting, inspiring and often very moving [...] A lively, compassionate exhortation for us all to get our hands back in the soil"
– Isabella Tree
"A compelling and deeply moving account of how profoundly our wellbeing can be affected through contact with gardening and the natural world [...] Read it"
– Edmund de Waal