Review by Frederic A. Brussat
Plants are living, changing beings that bring beauty and delight into our lives. They also offer us ample opportunities to practice the spirituality of what Judith Handelsman calls communication, connection, and communion. Using lively stories from her years of gardening as well as from the experiences of others, she presents five attitude changes which grow out of the process of spiritual gardening.
Number one: Come out of the closet about talking to plants. Number two: Ask your plants for help while you're relating to them. Number three: Be open to the unique ways plants are communicating with you. Number four: Become one with your plants through silence, stillness, and awareness. Number Five; Stop treating plants as objects and cherish your reciprocal relationship with them.
Handelsman's enthusiasm is salutary, especially in her accounts of the spiritual etiquette she uses when repotting plants or picking and pruning in her garden. This superb audio presentation is another fine example of the breadth and depth of everyday spirituality in our times.
New Age Retailer
Working with plants actually became Judith Handelsman's vehicle for her spiritual awakening and subsequent practice. Handelsman views plants as more than just metaphors. She believes plants to be conscious beings, and she lays out her own commandments: connection, communication, and communion. She feels when we cultivate a garden, we cultivate our own spirit.
According to Handelsman, five attitudinal shifts are necessary for the spiritual gardener. She illustrates each of these with historical and anecdotal evidence that is fascinating, although perhaps not a complete surprise to anyone whose life is already intimately bound to the green kingdom.
Handelsman has a light, pleasant voice and presents her material in wellpaced and appropriately animated fashion. Spiritual Gardening will be a great gift idea even for those whose garden is limited to a single, potted geranium, because all listeners will find Handelsman's principles transforming the relationship between themselves and plants. As an added bonus, these principles translate very well into the human dimension. Display this set prominently and its warm, yellow cover surely will catch customers' eyes.
Library Journal November 15, 1998
In this audio tape, Handelsman, a gardening columnist and commentator, focuses on recapturing our spiritual connection with nature through gardening and provides guidance on how to see plants as sensing beings. She stresses the importance of communicating with plants, treating them with love, and telling them what we want them to do. In one example, she writes of telling a potbound spider plant it had 24 hours to prepare to be separated. When she returned to repot the plant, it had essentially divided itself into two parts. The author speaks with total conviction, her warm tone making her message one worth taking seriously The tape quality is excellent. Recommended for those interested in exploring further their spirituality and its relationship to nature.-- Nancy R Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Paula Russell--Review Editor
Put Spiritual Gardening at the top of the holiday gift list for anyone who ioves to garden, has a parsley pot on the window sill. or wants to keep the new poinsettia thriving all year, hugs trees, feels personally brutalized when they see a clearcut, or whispers to roses and already knows that plants are sentient beings. In the 1970s, The Secret Life of Plants was a bestseller which "documented" that plants have intelligent, emotional reactions to their environment. Handelsman is reintroducing that concept to the '90s with a passion, offering a bridge to those wanting to re-establish the sacred exchange with plants that came naturally in childhood. If you have never spoken to a green being and have a black thumb but you'd like a house full of oxygen-producing foliage, Handelsman's approach is also eminently practical. Either way, there's nothing to lose. At 3 hours, the tapes could have used some editing, but the message is worth the price. "We are all in exile from the garden. Spiritual Gardening helps us return home."
Dallas Morning News
The style here is more conversational than literary; the message is that gardening and a love for the natural world are a spiritual experience, one that began far back in human history. Ms. Handelsman is a former gardening columnist for Vogue and New Age Journal and the author of Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey through Gardening. Contending that plants are sentient beings, she combines meditation with gardening, "so that everything I did with my plants was spiritual, in the sense that I was growing love--that my capacity to love was greater and greater and greater, that my heart was growing. What I understood then was that gardening was my first experience of God." - K.S.
Feminist Bookstore News
By Donna Niles
This tape set by the author of Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey through Gardening offers listeners both a cornucopia of tips on stimulating growth, pruning, repoting and the like, but is rich in instruction to opening ourselves to the redemptive power of growing things.
I could listen to Judith Handelsman all day. Not only does she tell great anecdotal stories that leave me wishing for more, she speaks about something close to my heart that I want to be even closer to my heart for all of the ways it can illumine my spiritual life: gardening.
It's not coincidental that gardening is Americans' #1 hobby. I don't know if most of us would describe the activity as something that nourishes'our souls and keeps us grounded, but that is indeed what gardening does. Whether it is done in the act of watering and pruning our houseplants, or caring for our flowerbeds, gardening teaches us to grow by opening up, by allowing ourselves to settle into a rhythm that is timeless and not controllable, to grasp and experience the love constantly flowing to us from every living thing. There may be other ways to learn these spiritual lessons, but I can think of none more utterly pleasurable than through the process of gardening. Just as we undergo transformations in our lives, the plants we tend undergo them, too. Although these transformations take the form of putting out buds, flowering, dropping leaves, reacting to traumas and disease, they are not that unlike our very lives--gestating ideas, being creative, going within, being out of balance, recovering, growing, expanding, contracting. It is profound to see our own lives reflected in a garden, yet that is exactly what can happen when we experience spiritual gardening.
Whether your version of a garden is a philodendron on your desk, or a landscaped terrace, you are invited here by Judith Handelsman to take it a step further and be aware of the give and take which goes on between plant and gardener. Intuition, personal responsibility, embracing cycles of life, and soul nourishment are all part of it. And as if all this inspiration weren't enough, she gives us practical tips on how to be the best gardeners we can be, right there with our own plants, in our own homes.