Gardening and healing



It may seem dreamy and wishful to think that growing things can also be healing things, but amazingly enough, science does seem to back this up.

Recent studies on soil microbes suggest that exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs. So digging in the dirt really can make you feel good! And here I thought it was just me…

Then the other day, I came across an article about a company in London called Bread & Roses. For obvious reasons, the name jumped out at me, but when I read on, I got more and more excited.

Bread and Roses is a floristry scheme in London, created to help female refugees find their way in a strange city, learn new skills, and improve their English.

While this is already an incredible cause, I was fascinated by the comments of the women in the program: They all talked about how the flowers themselves seemed to calm them, ease their fears, build their confidence and restore their dignity.

It seems that the scent and fragile beauty of the plants themselves makes this enterprise more than a learning experience for the women, but a healing one too.

In the case of Bone Meal for Roses, the wounds that I was trying to tackle involved childhood trauma and the lifelong scars that result.

But it is a not a tale of misery, it is a story about becoming a strong, whole person in spite of the scars.

Because of this, perhaps it’s fitting that I was able to tap into my own experiences in order to write it.

You see, writing a novel is (at least for me) a process congested with doubts and fears, many of them rooted in that wordless, childhood time when the scars began to form, and so, I have to face them down in order to do get the work done.

As a consequence, finishing a manuscript is hugely empowering. A small, inner war has been fought and won, and a new garden grows.

Like a walk through the best of gardens, I wanted the book to be sumptuous, luxuriant, almost, and take the reader on a slow, sensory journey alongside the characters, allowing them to experience the emergence of Sam’s strength rather than get mired down in her pain.

The way I see it, life is hard. For everyone. It’s a perpetual barrage of challenges, both vast and minute, external and internal; but there’s beauty in it too, and it’s important to take note of that.

Overcoming odds and hurt is what can make a life magnificent.

So, really, this is why I write, and this is what I hope my books may, one day, do for those who read them.

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