The power of gardens and gardening to do good is nothing new …

Sue Stuart-Smith

At our annual lecture in November 2020, prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Sue Stuart-Smith (pictured above) reflected on the global pandemic and shared how gardening became fundamentally a hopeful act for millions in lockdown. But the power of gardens and gardening to do good is nothing new says Sue…

“When you look through history, in times of crisis people look to the land. It is an effect that’s been called ‘Urgent Biophilia’, and it’s been observed following wars, natural disasters, and economic crashes.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with everybody’s futures cancelled, there was a rush for seeds. This is because gardens and gardening give us a very simple way to begin thinking about the months ahead in a positive light. Gardening is fundamentally a hopeful act. When we sow seeds we are looking forwards, and with this brings a sense of purpose and motivation.

Gardening also gives us a part of our lives we can shape, which can be really empowering. It draws us into a relationship much larger than ourselves, where we must accept the things we cannot control – whether it’s pests, wind or the weather. So when I garden I feel a constant dialogue between me and nature.

It also brings you into a relationship of care which is intrinsically rewarding. This is based on our endorphin system. So, tending a garden creates a pleasurable sense of relaxation and mood elevation. In our world today I believe we have lost touch with the value and importance of care, and this has impacted the rising levels of anxiety and depression that we’ve seen in recent decades.”

More to discover


You can explore more about this fascinating relationship in Sue’s best-selling book; The Well Gardened Mind, now available in paperback. Listen to a short reading by Sue in the video below.

Watch a recording of the annual lecture Gardens are for people with Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith

Visit Sue and her husband Tom’s garden, The Barn when it opens for the National Garden Scheme click here

Sue will be reading from her book on Friday 9th July as part of the evening opening at 14 Watling Street, St Albans. More info here

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