Sylvia & Me
Sue Stuart-Smith: Author The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, Psychiatrist, Avid Gardner

The Avid Gardener

Sue Stuart-Smith, is an avid gardener, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and the author of The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature. Don’t let the title fool you; you do not have to be a gardener to read this powerful book. But you may want to become one after you have. You may discover the mental health benefits that come with tending a plot or just a plant.

Really, just a plant and your mental well-being?

‘Nature’s power of restoration and natural beauty is very sustaining.’

Sue Stuart-Smith is a prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist and of course, an avid gardener. She took her degree in English literature before becoming a doctor. Sue worked in the National Health Service where she became the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. Currently, Sue teaches at The Tavistock Clinic in London is a consultant to the DocHealth service. Married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer for over thirty years, the avid gardeners created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertsfordshire.

Can growing something actually help one’s mental well-being? Does nature really have restorative powers? And does a garden need to be more than the plant that you can fit on your windowsill?

‘Long before I wanted to be a psychiatrist, long before I had any inkling that gardening might play an important role in my life, I remember hearing he story of how my grandfather was restored after the First World War.’ Sue’s grandfather had been a prisoner of war and had suffered tremendous trauma. She would learn that his recovery started in 1920 when he enrolled in a horticulture course.