When we sow a seed, we plant a narrative of future possibility.Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith, “The Well-Gardened Mind”
Thank you, Rebecca Mead, for sharing that powerful sentence in your recent piece about the solace of gardening in The New Yorker. We are all so weary, so disinclined to optimism, so quick to jump on the real — or perceived — slights of others. To be reminded that there is a future filled with possibilities is a gift.
Rebecca Mead, who is based in London, writes that the benefits of gardening on mental health is widely acknowledged in Britain.
Primary-care doctors increasingly give patients a “social prescription” to do something like volunteer at a local community garden, believe in that such work can sometimes be as beneficial as talk therapy of antidepressants.Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker
We are lucky to live in a year-round gardening environment in South Florida. I’ve grown an avocado pit into a full tree that gave us more than 40 avocados this year. The mango tree, also grown from a pit, should begin producing next year.
A rambling vine had completely overwhelmed the arbor next to our porch — the screen enclosure called a lanai — so my husband pulled it down. While we were contemplating what to plant in its stead, the stubborn vine began a new life, seeming to grow inches a day. We just harnessed it into place once again.
The milkweed bushes in our front yard reveal an entire life-cycle of the monarch butterfly. The plant is the only type that the caterpillars can eat, and they really chomp away, until they spin themselves a cocoon and emerge a gorgeous orange butterfly.
The twenty-foot palm tree that dominates our view no matter the time of day was a $15, two-foot plant when we brought it home.
And the orchids that I transplanted from their boggy pots have wrapped their roots securely to the palm tree trunks where they will cycle through blooming and resting forever. Orchids can live 100 years.
When hurricane season is over and Florida’s steamy heat subsides, I’ve decided to plant a small vegetable garden along the side of the house where my husband created a raised bed some months back. Digging in the dirt will be delightful, and watching seedlings become sturdy plants and flowers become fruit and vegetables will buoy my spirit.
The meditative and repetitive aspects of gardening can function as a form of play for grownups.Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker