Chirk Castle

Can gardening be therapy?

Yesterday's London Times (4 May 2010) ran an article I wrote called 'Sowing the seeds of a happier life'. When my mother was ill with Alzheimer's, I found enormous solace in gardening. I believe that for centuries, woman have done likewise.

I'd also love to hear from other women who can tell me why they have found comfort in gardening.

Here is an excerpt:

"Hospital visits, dealing with carers and social serives, all the draining aspects of looking after someone who is disintergrating in front of your eyes, left little time in my life for normality. There was only one place that I found true escape - my garden...the garden needed me and I needed it. Somehow working there kept me in touch with the mother who had always been my closet gardening companion... Smelling a shared, favourite-scented rose would help bring back memories of happier days.

"I don't know why this should surprise me. Gardening has always been a source of solace to women. In medieval times, the hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) was a sanctuary for women where they had freedom to read and talk privately as well as to maintain plants and flowers..."

Here is a link to the article in full.

Sowing the seeds of a happier life

Norah Lindsay at Chirk Castle

One of the aims of this website is to create an online source of information about women and horticulture together with the gardens they were involved with especially those that there wasn't room to include in my book. The first addition to this database is a romantic garden created in the grounds of Chirk Castle, Nr Wrexham. Norah Lindsay, one of my favourite 'Gardening Women', a grande dame with grand ideas, was a close friend of the Howard de Walden family who leased the calse in 1911. Norah stayed with the family not only as a friend but as a garden designer. She influenced the design of the topiary and created enormous labour-intensive herbaceous borders -but there were eighteen gardeners to tend them!

Chirk Castle is now maintained by the National Trust. Visit their website for opening dates: Chirk Castle