Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Gardening Is The Best Therapy

Pamela Page is one of those supremely talented plantswomen who can knock together a lavender parterre and then pen an inspiring piece about gardening in almost the same breath. A self-taught landscape designer (as many of the best gardeners are), she and her husband purchased an 18th century farmhouse in southern Connecticut – which seems to be something of a hothouse for talented horticulturalists (Bunny Williams' famous garden is also in the same part of the country) – and then embarked on an ambitious plan to restore the property. Ten years later, she has created a spectacular space that is so productive, she often sells the excess produce out of the back of her Mercedes each week.

I love the fact that she's happy to use her Merc as a luxury mobile wheelbarrow, but what I love more is that she calls gardening "sexy". She also uses the words 'spiritual', 'whimsical', 'healthy', and 'fun'. I have to say, I like Ms Page. She sounds like a gardener to love.

Recently, I discovered a piece that Pamela wrote about gardening for the Huffington Post – which you can find here: Why I Garden. I was so moved by it, I thought I'd compile my own little list. I'm not as erudite as Pamela Page (far, far from it), but I still hope it inspires some of you to take up this wonderfully therapeutic activity at some stage of your lives.


I garden because it's procrastination disguised as a spade. Plus, you can hide in a garden –whether with a digging fork or a good book – and no one will ever know you're there! But if you're cooking raspberry tarts in the kitchen or watching Oprah re-runs in the living room, you have no excuse for your pathetic lack of productivity.

I garden because it's cheap therapy. If I'm mad I can go out to the potager and stick a rake in a weed's heart. Or do something unmentionable to a slug.

I garden because it's great exercise. Pulling up weeds, shovelling soil or hauling bundles of leaves to the compost heap is almost as exhausting as doing a spin class.

I garden because – like a relationship – it takes effort, hard work and lots of love to reap rewards. It won't grow if you don't give it life.

I garden because there is nothing better than wandering out at twilight to pick some fresh rosemary for the roast lamb, or plucking a just-ripe lemon to slice for your evening G&T.

I garden because some of the loveliest people in the world are gardeners.

I garden because I like sticking up for the underdog. While some horticultural snobs prefer the posher produce – such as the Purple Podded Dutch thingamebob (apparently it's the Elle Macpherson of beans) – I'm happy to support the little fellas. Such as the good old-fashioned radish.

I garden because it is not for poseurs or pretentious souls. It doesn't matter whether you own a late-model Merc or a McLaren F1, whether you went to Harvard or the Sorbonne, or whether you wear head-to-toe Chanel or haute couture. If you can't grow a squash or some other simple thing, you're not going to last very long.

I garden because it's the only subject in the world where, no matter how much you learn, you will still never know it all. Even Rosemary Verey admitted she was still an amateur.

I garden to be surprised. A new-spring hyacinth one day. A perfect pink summer peony the next.

I garden because even the unwanted flowers are beautiful. (Japanese anemones grow like weeds where we live. But oh – what beautiful weeds they are!)

I garden because it's a living painting. And you get to be Monet for a day. (Or longer, if you're lucky.)

I garden to smell the scent of jasmine on a beautiful spring morning.

I garden because, even though I don't know the Latin names of plants ("what's that pink thingy called" is my oft-repeated phrase at our local nursery), and I often mispronounce names (Pittosporum is such a silly word anyway), the Latin Set still forgive me.

I garden in order to be enthralled by heirloom seeds. Such as Listada di Gandia. And Bohemian Pumpkins.

I garden because there are few things more entrancing than a hand-drawn garden plan.

I garden because a potting shed is one of the most magical places you will ever see.

I garden because it's humbling. Mother Nature is a wicked boss. You can spend a day preparing a lawn and then a heat wave will hit. You can spend a weekend planting an avenue of pears and then a disease will float in on some foul wind. And you can spend a month digging out a potager and planting all your beloved vegetables, only to find there's not enough sun in that spot to grow even a spinach leaf.

I garden because if you try being a little rebellious, it won't work. (For example, just try ignoring your mother's advice and growing that Japanese wisteria or Robinia Casque Rogue and see how much it overtakes the house.)

I garden because there is nothing more spectacular in the world, in my opinion, that the Chelsea Flower Show.

I garden because the rhythm of the seasons makes one aware of one's own mortality.

I garden because it nourishes the soul.


  1. They are all such wonderful reasons to garden and more than one of them would get me out into the garden.....until, a slug, a cricket, a spider, an earwig or any other, in this family of creepy crawlies, made an appearance and then I am gone for another 12 months and the opportunities have gone too!!!!!! xx

  2. Adore your blogs...particularly loved today's "Coco Story"...your loving words and admissions of finding a true love and awakening...thanks to a little critter! Very touching.


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