About Paul Morgan

I am a gardener. I just love growing things, anything I can get to grow. I also love connecting with and learning about the local environment, landscape or place, particularly as this relates to growing things. Gardens are always microcosms of their local environment, unless they’re engineered to be completely independent of local conditions. But I do not consider such constructions gardens. For me gardening is collaboration between human and Nature. Too much manmade stuff in the mix and they are no longer gardens.

As a gardener, I am shaped by my local environment. I grew up with the hot dry summers and wet winter-springs of Melbourne, and developed love of landscape playing in the woodlands, fields and rolling hills of the Yarra Valley. In 1994 I left Melbourne for Sydney to be with my love, Myrna. I had to learn how to garden in a very different, temperate, maritime environment with hungry sandstone soils.

In 2018 Myrna and I moved to a rural property, seven acres of well-watered, rich volcanic land in the subtropical Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. And I am having to adapt my gardening to another array of environmental conditions. Digging In is about delving into local environmental conditions and using this knowledge in the garden.

But it isn’t a how to of gardening. I don’t claim to be one of those most respected of gardeners, the plantsman or plantswoman. As well as having great depth of horticultural knowledge necessary to achieve the best results from the widest range of plants, the plantsman or woman must be excellent observers, have good fine motor skills and be very structured and methodical in their garden practice. And that’s just not me. Aside from a passable knowledge of ecological processes, I possess none of these abilities.

In order to satisfy my powerful urge to cultivate the Earth, I have had to develop my own approach to gardening that sees Nature more as a co-creative partner rather than as something to be controlled and directed towards a predetermined outcome. This is a more intuitive style than the methodical approach of the plantsman. But it is not an intuition based on ignorance and wishful thinking. My intuition draws on an embodied understanding of environment arising from childhood connection with Nature, scientific knowledge gleaned at university and practical skills derived from a decade working as a landscape gardener.

This new gardening approach was never something I set out to create. It was the result of an experience of personal trauma that saw me abandon landscaping to head down the path of inner healing work, and eventually to find a new career as a psychotherapist for children who have been severely abused and traumatised. So the title Digging In also refers to an inner journey of delving into oneself, and the place of Nature and gardening in the healing journey. My own journey is covered in detail in my forthcoming book, Nature and Nurture. Digging In is something of a taster.