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Publisher's Summary

The Sunday Times best seller.

A Times and Sunday Times Best Book of 2020.

How can gardening relieve stress and help us look after our mental health? What lies behind the restorative power of the natural world? 

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.

With illuminating stories of how people struggling with stress, depression, trauma and addiction can change their lives, this inspiring and wise book of science, insight and anecdote – now translated into fifteen languages – shows how our understanding of nature and its restorative powers is only just beginning to flower.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)  

"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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Great book, mediocre performance

The narrator seemed to struggle to get into it at times, and she can sound quite monotonous, but this book is definitely worth reading if you're interested in gardening, urban ecology, urban biodiversity, and/or mental health viz one health.

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a must read for 2020

loved this. it connected so many dots. it is well read, well researched and commanding.

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  • Ginfly
  • 04-06-2020

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.

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  • Sarahpars
  • 10-05-2020

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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  • Allium
  • 19-10-2020

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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  • 25aylmer
  • 17-10-2020

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-09-2020

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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  • Amanda Earthwren Gazidis
  • 18-07-2020

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-07-2020

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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  • Alethea Lucas
  • 13-07-2020

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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  • JG
  • 10-07-2020

Reconnecting the mind with the natural order

This is a very enjoyable exploration of some the very positive aspects of gardening and the effect that connecting - or for many of us, reconnecting - with nature can have on our state of mind, our health and on our physical and mental well-being.

Sue Stuart-Smith gathers together a lot of the evidence - drawn from a variety of historical and contemporary sources and settings - which confirms much of what we probably innately know, that being close to the earth and experiencing the regeneration of plants can have a positive effect on us. The story of her grandfather, of prisoners and of those suffering Terminal or life-changing injuries are particularly striking.

Topical, both from the perspective of the need to look after our mental health whilst reflecting the return to gardens of allotments that many have experienced during the social isolation of COVID 19 - this should have a wide appeal.

My only real criticism is of the author’s slightly annoying habit of pausing to emphasise quotes that eventually feels rather patronising - like we can’t work that out for ourselves. Whilst I found her soft delivery quite soothing and enjoyable initially, after 8-9 hours, the saccharine sweet monotone, I’m afraid, began to grate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-05-2020

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-04-2021

Fascinating and moving

I so enjoyed this wise, moving and fascinating book. It is packed with research about gardening, nature and the mind and full of amazing personal stories too.
Having found gardening enormously helpful myself, through times of depression, anxiety and grief,I can vouch for its truth.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.