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Why We Garden by Claire Massett

Why We Garden by Claire Masset

My immediate reaction to the title was to respond “but I don’t”. However, this is true only insofar as I outsource it because others are better at generating the horticultural joy I crave in the extremely restricted space that passes for a London garden. I think this in itself confirms Claire Masset’s premise: that we don’t garden just because we like flowers; rather, there is something primal about gardening that goes beyond the aesthetics.

Masset’s book is both unusual and compelling, for it is reflective, and even philosophical, as well as being a call to arms. In encouraging us, she invokes Epicurus and Voltaire, Gertrude Jekyll and Margery Fish. Masset’s 10 chapters expand on the reasons why we indulge in what can be such back-breaking and frustrating labours. Among the many motivations we have for tending and nurturing whatever green space we are responsible for, Masset argues that we garden to create beauty and order but also a sanctuary, and as a form of therapy and even love. Highly recommended.

Ettie Neil-Gallacher

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