Brian May: My garden is a balm for my depressive tendencies

Sherna Noah
·3 min read

Queen star Brian May has said gardening provides therapy for his “depressive” tendencies.

The guitarist, 73, said he feels grounded when he tends to his garden.

He told BBC Gardeners’ World magazine that planting and nurturing flowers and shrubs had changed him as a person.

“It’s central to life,” he said.

“I’m conscious that I’m so lucky to have greenery around me – without it I think my brain would explode. It helps me balance.

“I’m naturally a depressive, I’m not a cup-half-full person. I’m someone who tends to feel problems very close-up and gardening is such a help, it’s one of life’s great therapies.”

May, who is married to former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson, said: “I have a tiny garden in London, where we spend some time as my wife doesn’t like being anywhere she can’t wear high heels.

“Then I have my garden in Surrey, which we use to release wildlife, such as hedgehogs and foxes, that have been found orphaned or injured.”

He told the March issue of the magazine: “As a kid I’d only mowed lawns as a chore, but when I got my own house, 40 years ago, I enjoyed finding out what could be done.

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“I love this feeling of being in touch with life. There is something about gardening that grounds you and I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.”

May added he is still not up to full strength after suffering a heart attack and stomach haemorrhage, and also believes he caught coronavirus.

“Last year, I thought I’d got sciatica after some tree pruning and heavy lifting, but I think I actually got Covid-19 on tour in the Far East, just ahead of the pandemic reaching the UK,” the rock star said.

Gardeners' World magazine
(BBC/PA)

“I then had a heart attack and the medication for that gave me a stomach haemorrhage, which was the closest I’ve come to death. I still don’t have all my strength back.”

He said his passion for animal welfare is “always in me”.

“I was asked if some of my land could be used as soft-release territory and I was thrilled. We get deer every morning and foxes in the evening.”

He advised: “Don’t use pesticides or strimmers, have access holes in your fences and make sure your neighbours are following the same rules.”

May said of his garden in Surrey: “We’ve maximised its friendliness to wildlife with natural planting and we don’t use pesticides.

“I don’t do annuals. I used to get quite excited about putting annuals in, but I got bored with how labour-intensive it is.”

Freddie Mercury also loved his garden
Freddie Mercury also loved his garden (PA)

Late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was also into gardening, even if he did not do it all himself.

“He loved it. He had a beautiful garden in Kensington, with a wonderful pond and little river system where he bred koi carp,” May told the magazine.

“His boyfriend, who he settled down with, was very into the fish. I don’t think he did a lot of digging – he had people who dug for him!”

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