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The Joy of Gardening – Book Review

A delightful and inspiring read, perfectly suited to the beginner, that encompasses a mindfulness approach towards gardening. Reviewer Katie Beale is editorial assistant for Gardens Illustrated.

by Ellen Mary
Greenfinch, £14.99
ISBN 978-1529412864

In an uplifting book aimed at the novice gardener, Ellen Mary, one half of the The Plant Based Podcast, sets out to explore how gardening and well-being are linked through the perspective of mindfulness. She takes on themes such as visualisation and drawing to capture an ideal garden, and the concept of a sensory garden, emphasising the importance of a connection with the senses and one’s inner sense of contentment. Mary encourages keeping a garden journal, taking photographs and enjoying the progress and fulfilment of gardening as an exercise.

I enjoyed the chapter ‘Sowing Seeds for Serenity’, dedicated to the holistic and therapeutic process of gentle gardening, without mechanical means or pressured process. The chapter on companion planting is a handy guide on the best companion combinations, without the jargon and formality of some books. The friendly tone will appeal to a younger, novice audience, especially one with a discerning interest in, and appreciation of, the concept of well-being.

Experienced gardeners may be concerned by the subtitle The Everyday Zen of Mowing Your Lawn – suggesting that mowing is the way to go for an instant buzz and easy, tick-box gardening. I too approached it with caution, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the chapter on mowing your lawn does mention the subject of ‘no mow’ and its benefits. The simplistic approach does, however, occlude some of the more widely publicised initiatives for not mowing lawns. I would have liked more detail on the subject, but am aware that this may have been beyond the remit of the book.

The inclusion of colourful plant illustrations by Romy Palstra helps to make this a pleasant read, and an ideal gift for any budding younger gardener. The overall tone of the book – engaging and accessible – and its focus on mindfulness and appreciation, reminds us that gardening is something we should all enjoy, not just do.