The survivors of the holocaust are getting on. Many have been in the UK for most of their life now. Traumas are old and familiar, sorrow runs deep and is still so close to the surface. Gardening creates a space that jogs the memories of childhood, of gardens and parks in other cities, of parents lovingly titivating the soil. Flowers are arranged artfully and deftly, compost is crumbled to a fine tilth with ease. These are the skills passed on from parents, a heritage that lives on.
Gardening with holocaust survivors has been a lesson in resilience and wisdom. The moments between being engrossed in the task at hand, when gardeners chewed the cud, have revealed a terrible history in few words. Yet their love and care whilst gardening carried the sessions with an ease. It reminds me of a very touching book describing the power of gardening therapy, or, the ‘blue sky hospital’. I urge anyone interested in this field to read it. Curl up under a shady tree this Summer and drink it in. It is The Healing Fields by Sonja Linden and Jenny Grut of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, published by Frances Lincoln.