How Gardening affects how we behave and even: Gardening on a Stage!

I've lived in flats, mostly multi-stories most of my life. Living in many of these flats without having a garden is mainly what inspired me to found Lend and Tend.

As well as gardening, I also love the theatre and reading.

I recently re-read J.G Ballard’s High Rise (rooftop garden anyone?) and thought Ned Beauman‘s foreword brilliantly struck a chord. I'd also just seen new one-woman play by Lucy Grace called Garden and the lead role Lucy plays in it, is based on her own experiences of living in the city; the play unfurls with Lucy’s behaviour getting gradually stranger in the environment of her own high-rise flat stuck on the 3rd floor and how living without a garden affects her mental health.

Beauman wrote, “Does the place you live really change the way you behave? A 2007 meta-study by Robert Gifford concluded that ‘children who live in high rises have, on average more behavioural problems’. Residents in high-rises probably have fewer friendships in the building, and certainly, help each other less”. In Ballard’s High-Rise, protagonist Laing muses; ‘life in the high-rise [began] to resemble the world outside…[with the] same ruthlessness and aggressions concealed within a set of polite conventions’.

Things do get a little out of hand in High Rise to say the least and it’s a disturbing and thrilling fun read. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t read it, but the story does have quirks that tie in with Lucy’s character and her character's plight in Garden. High-Rise too, ‘externalises’ where ‘we wage quiet wars with fake smiles, or just repress and fantasise’. Lucy, in Garden equally has strange fantasies based on being cooped up in her high story home. 

Gardening for good mental health is the focus of her Edinburgh Fringe play, Lucy Grace says gardening helped her with her own depression and anxiety.

Gardening for good mental health is the focus of her Edinburgh Fringe play, Lucy Grace says gardening helped her with her own depression and anxiety.

There is a way that people like us; me, you and the 1000’s of others who live in cities like London, like Lucy in the play Garden, can combat our shut off existences and deal with living in our boxy, but necessary quarters; high-rises, converted in to flats-flats, split-level maisonettes, semi-detached, often cramped and overshared existences that drive us to distraction.

There’s Lend & Tend where willing garden owners who, perhaps need some garden help, can lend their gardens to the garden-less and the garden-less can experience some of that positivity that gardening brings.

My favourite copy of J G Ballard’s, High Rise. Albeit is a little rain beaten from reading outside.

My favourite copy of J G Ballard’s, High Rise. Albeit is a little rain beaten from reading outside.

A little birdy also tells me High-Rise is soon to have its UK feature-film release, however, books are always far superior in my opinion and you can read them in the garden.

So if you’ve no garden? No problem, There’s no need go home and shut the door of your flat behind you. There could be a potentially beautiful space right under your nose that could certainly use the hands and green fingers of a local Lend and Tend, Tender; If that’s you, to get it in back into shape: getting you outside in the fresh air, in a garden, possibly growing healthy and delicious things to eat too and with any luck help you be mindful of your own mental well-being.

 

I hope that via the medium of gardening and garden appreciation, Lend and Tend also becomes a way of befriending people in our communities; our neighbours, people who we’d perhaps never otherwise meet, people that we could have unexpected friendships with, people like the older members of our society who we need to look out for, who much like the man in the John Lewis Christmas ‘Man on the Moon’ ad, often live just as shut off lives as us busy younger people like Lucy in her play Garden.

So please share lendandtend.com with your neighbours and colleagues, family and friends and help get both young and old appreciating gardens again. 

If you want to find out more about seeing Lucy Grace’s wonderful show Garden later this Spring, keep an eye on the Greenwich Theatre, London page.