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Monday, 12 June 2017

Strange Gardens

I have just finished reading a book about Plunket founder Truby King - apparently among other things he was a manic gardener as well and bought hundreds of rhododendrons for his Wellington property - that didn't do well because Wellington is way too windy.

It was called 'In a strange garden'. But I do think the biographer didn't really do him justice because there's not much evidence it was at all strange. Truby King (1858-1938) trained as a doctor and became the superintendent of the now defunct Seacliff mental asylum. Back in those days, those who did not have sound minds were admitted to these hospitals or retreats far away from town to rest and recover. They didn't administer things like anti-psychotics or lithium or tranquilisers in those days, what Truby did was get these people to garden and fish.

I have encountered in my life many mentally ill people and having experienced it I can tell you gardening is the best thing for a troubled mind, with fresh air and fresh food it will do you a world of good. King went further because he could see it was like having an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff for these broken and damaged people. So with his powers of observation and oratory skills of persuasion, he made a convincing case for the proper care and feeding of babies, prevention being better than cure - so that they would grow healthy and strong and be able to resist, among other things the 'Evils of Cram'.

What is the 'Evils of Cram?'. Well basically it's too much studying. lol.
His theory was (and he and his wife never had biological children either) that too much studying and book learning and memorising useless information you are deprived of fresh air and exercise, and most of it is rubbish anyway that you only need to know to pass an exam. Hear hear.

And then that makes you unattractively bookish and unfit to be a mother. Hmm. I don't know about that, but I think if you always have your nose in a textbook maybe men don't make passes at women who wear glasses. However much that wasn't true in my case..but it did mean I probably attracted all the weirdos. Which is why I am an old maid.

Sigh. Also, I do recall I wasn't breastfed but I was Plunketed. One of my earliest memories was being weighed in at the Plunket offices. I think Truby King could have continued on with his work in the Plunket by showing these mothers how to garden as well, to teach their children and then, maybe I wouldn't have ended up insane from too much study.