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Summary

Those who work with the earth have known for years: there’s a magical quality to gardening. In a mix of psychology, neuroscience and stories from around the world, Sue Stuart-Smith breaks ground to explore the power of interacting with nature and how the garden can provide a vital place to cultivate the mind.

The garden has always been a place of peace and perseverance, of nurture and reward. Using contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and compelling real-life stories, The Well Gardened Mind investigates the remarkable effects of nature on our health and well-being.

From the science of the brain’s own ‘gardener cells’, to the beauty of flowers and the grounding effects of working with nature’s rhythms of growth, decay and regeneration, Stuart-Smith provides a new perspective on the power of gardening. Prisoners given the chance to grow plants are less likely to re-offend. 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. Using case studies of people struggling with stress, depression, trauma and addiction, as well as her own grandfather’s return from World War I, she explores the many ways in which gardening can help transform people’s lives. 

Presenting recent research into why people feel more fully alive and energised in the natural world, why gardeners report feeling calmer and more vigorous and why spending time in nature awakens the connection-seeking aspects of our human nature, Stuart-Smith argues that our increasingly urbanised and technology-dependent lifestyles make it more important than ever to rediscover a closer relationship with the earth.

In this glorious audiobook of science, insight and anecdote, Stuart-Smith shows our understanding of nature and its restorative powers is just beginning to flower.

©2020 Sue Stuart-Smith (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"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." (Observer

"Stuart-Smith’s beautifully written book is filled with insights into the joys but also the therapeutic benefits that tending plants can offer, not just to people who feel they have lost their place in nature, but to everyone. This is a life-affirming study of the pleasures of growing things." (Guardian

What listeners say about The Well Gardened Mind

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Informative and wonderfully grounding

A great piece of work - a beautiful weave of the mind body and soul, navigated through history, theory, processes of gardening and personal reflection.

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This is a life enriching book!

Empowering, informative, uplifting and real! Sue reads with clarity and intimacy. One to be heard!

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Interesting and intellectual.

I found this a fascinating book, however at times it was a bit ‘heady’ and ‘intellectual’. It looks at in great detail the benefits of nature and gardening on our mental and physical wellbeing. Sue Stuart-Smith has thoroughly researched this book and brought much insight to the subject. For me gardening is an escape from the technological world, a refuge and I listened to this book whilst gardening at my Allotment. At times I felt her delivery was a little ‘flat’, I think such a subject could be more emotional and passionately conveyed in the words and delivery. Overall an interesting book that brings home the importance of gardening to the mind, body and spirit and I recommend it! The impact of gardening and gardens reduces so many different mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. Particularly a good book using wonderful words such as ‘ biophilia’.

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insightful and inspiring

about to listen to it all over again! packed with so much research and history it definitely invites multiple listens. hugely recommended

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Exceptional

A truly wonderful book. I listened to the audiobook as I tended my allotment and it has genuinely changed my perspective on the world.

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Really love this book.

I'm a passionate advocate of the outdoors as an enriching environment for healthy living, teaching and learning I guess you could say that I'm rather receptive to the ideas and philosophies in this book. However I was still really struck by the power and quality of the anecdotes and research references and have learned lots about the science and history of using nature as a healing force. The narration by the author (whilst clear and authoritative) is also calm and gentle which adds a lot to the listening experience. Thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

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Crucial education

This book needs to be on an educational curriculum. I am glad I read it.

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A book of relevance and resonance.

I have loved listening to this book. It draws on a wide range of fascinating human experience and gives the reader/listener food for thought. It has brought me refreshment and inspiration. It has affirmed and expanded my own experiences and ideals and encourages me to build on them. I am grateful to have this book and will re read it many times. Thank you Sue.

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Great resource & examples

An inspiring book with many amazing case studies and research ( a bit too much about Freud ) but the author’s flat serious toned narration meant it was a bit hard going.

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the author should not have been the reader

this is an important book, interesting, well researched and well written. But it is not well read. Sadly Sue Stuart-Smith has a really monotonous delivery and she does her wonderful book a real disservice. It should be re-recorded.

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  • Ginfly
  • 04-06-20

A book for these times...

How fortunate it was to find the recommendation for this book in times such as these. Not a word about about Covid-19 but about times past that have needed the mending ways, physical, mental and emotional, of gardening as now. Whether the garden be small or large it is a form of medicine that restores. The audio book is read softly and calmly but firmly by a gardener and mental health professional who has experienced all she has written about. When I found it would not be in the bookshops in Australia until July I ordered the audiobook and followed up with the book order. Instant gratification and the book in my hands three weeks later. The implication is that one has to help oneself by the choice of gardening and creation. There is no hectoring just wonderful examples through the ages. Some soil, water, seed and care go a long way - listening and reading for these times - thank you.