about digging in
Digging In celebrates the cultivation of the soil, the human collaboration with Nature called gardening. It ponders the why of gardening rather than the how, which many other sites do so well. Because we are both biological beings and social animals, a tricky paradoxical overlap of Nature and culture runs through the garden, through us all. Digging In is dedicated to the exploration of this fertile ground.
Digging In then, refers not just to cultivating the Earth, but also a process of digging into one’s self, exploring the inner landscape, and how it is shaped by our relationship with Nature. In doing so the website brings together some odd bedfellows, delving into design, aesthetics, philosophy, science (psychology and neuroscience as well as ecology and biology), ethics and politics. But in mixing up this rich compost of ideas, Digging In is not interested in abstract speculation, only questions that arise through the act of gardening.
About Me, Paul Morgan
I was introduced to Nature as a child playing in the woodlands and farms of Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. Later on, realising I was not cut out to be a scientist, memory of that childhood in Nature led me into a career in gardening. However, several traumas over a short time left me wounded, and needing to turn my gaze inward in order to heal. This experience spurred me on to train as a psychotherapist-counsellor and also to write.
Throughout this process I retained my passion for landscapes and gardens. They became the focus of my writing. Gardens were also important to my healing, and in a time of growing mental illness, I began to wonder if this might also be true for the traumatised children I work with clinically. However, despite a long tradition of gardens being regarded as places of healing, I find psychology has no explanation of how gardens assist people to heal.
As an extension of my gardening, I also volunteer my time rehabilitating an old tip site at the end of my street, attempting to establish a rainforest, to heal a tiny piece of the Earth. I’d prefer to tend my own private paradise garden, but it seems to be my lot to work with damaged children and places, the innocent bystanders of our chaotic, violent world. My clinical field has a long tradition of therapists reflecting closely on their own responses within the therapeutic relationship in order to understand their clients. I am keen to bring this process of reflection, this stance of curiosity to my gardening to better understand my relationship with Nature, and more broadly the complex relationship between Nature and culture.
So on this website I try to make sense of our mysterious relationship with Nature, the why of gardening and why does contact with Nature make us feel good and help us to heal? And how can we heal a damaged Nature? In a time of climate change and overpopulation, how are we to live in a way that ensures an ongoing place for Nature in our world? However, such questions require dialogue as well as reflection, and so I turn to one of our more recent cultural artefacts, the web. The purpose of Digging In is to put my thoughts out there for discussion. But discussion is a two way process. Please let me know your thoughts.