Review: Growth: Using Gardens To Change the Self And World

Growth: Using Garden To Change the Self And World audiobook cover. A man tends a garden where concentric rings of plants grow around him.
Growth: Using Gardens To Change the Self And World by Chirag Patel.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 2 hrs.

Growth is an audiobook which extolls the virtues of gardening to both individuals and organisations. Through a series of tips, tricks, and anecdotal reports, Chirag Patel leads the listener on a mindful, philosophical, and cultural tour of the practical benefits that can only be found by engaging with nature. Using his experience working with school groups, the author encourages us all to consider the ways we can promote growth; within ourselves, our communities, and our gardens.

One of my favourite lessons from this audiobook comes from the first chapter. When discussing ways to brighten an outdoor space with painted murals, Patel says, "Most importantly, remember: it's not forever. If it's a horrendous mess, you can always paint over it. Even if it is a mess, it's your mess, that you made to brighten everyone's day. People will respond to that."

Modern living is so driven by perfection, with everyone seeking lives that are 'Instagrammable', and this contributes to the depression and dissatisfaction so many of us feel when our projects or experiences fail to live up to this photoshopped and filtered standard. Gardening is, in many ways, the perfect antidote. It's messy and unpredictable, things grow out of control in unexpected directions, die off despite loving care, or stubbornly refuse to bloom until the week you happen to be away on holiday and can't see them. Plants force us to delight in small victories, resplendent in their imperfections, and to enjoy the process as much as the end result. No garden is ever 'finished', as each season or meteorological phenomenon brings with it a raft of horticultural duties. The passing of time becomes more mindful when you are connected to nature, and gardening - be it in an allotment or a window box - is one of the most accessible ways for people to plug back in to the natural world.

There are lots of great suggestions for improving soil condition, planting schedules, organic living, health, and sustainability. A few of the planting tips from the author's former newspaper column are location-specific (to the Eastern Cape), but can be adapted with a little common sense regarding the seasonal variations in your area. (Although the suggestion to "help clean up the streets by collecting donkey manure" may not have an easy 'swap' in most towns or cities in the UK!)

Narrated by the author, Chirag Patel, his enthusiasm for rewilding urban spaces and using gardening to aid in wellbeing was evident, and his passion was infectious. The positivity with which he approaches the subject felt full of the hopefulness and potential that I always feel from a park or garden.

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who wants to begin growing things or creating a garden, but is struggling to find the motivation to get started. It would also be useful for anyone who hopes to integrate gardening into school or community groups. The author's expertise and enthusiasm provide a simple, accessible, guide to using gardening to improve your well-being, so there's something here for anyone with an interest in the topic.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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