Audrey Hepburn is one of the most famous actresses of all time, but her life was not nearly as glamorous as many may have thought. Her life was actually full of many hardships. Born in 1929, in Brussels, Belgium, Audrey and her mother had to survive World War II on their own, as her father abandoned them when she was only 6 years old. Audrey usually had very little to eat and developed many medical problems due to malnutrition. Even though she would go on to have much success in her many films, she never got over the ordeals of her childhood and suffered from depression and an eating disorder for many years. Throughout her life, she always was happiest when she had serenity, privacy and quiet, which helped to create in her a love of gardening.
According to her son, Audrey’s favorite place in the world was the garden at her home in Switzerland. Audrey owned a 16,000 square mile villa overlooking Lake Geneva. Whenever she could be at the estate, she would spend many hours tending to the garden and filling her house with freshly cut flowers. Audrey loved the property so much that she lived there for her last 30 years. She enjoyed being far away from Hollywood, because she was never bothered by photographers and could lead a normal life.
The last project of Audrey’s life was a PBS television series in 1993 entitled “Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn”. It ran for just nine episodes, as she died the day before the first episode even aired. The shows featured 17 different gardens throughout the countries of Holland, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Italy, France, England, and the United States. The series won Audrey an Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Individual Achievement- Informational Programming’ and resulted in Audrey having a rose, tulip and daylily named after her. Audrey gave her salary from this documentary series to UNICEF, for which she was a goodwill ambassador. According to her life partner, Robert Wolders, Audrey stated that this project was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
There is no evidence that Audrey Hepburn ever sought medical help for her emotional problems. During her lifetime, many people were not even aware that Audrey had problems because her types of issues were not openly talked about like they are today. Gardening seemed to provide a means for her to feel at peace. Even according to many doctors and psychiatrists, gardening is a form of therapy because of its calming effects on the mind. Through working in a garden, an individual gets exercise and exposure to the sun, both which release serotonin, a mood-regulating brain chemical. New studies have also shown that there is a bacteria in soil that balances the immune system, leading to overall better health. With her traumatic childhood, it’s wonderful to see that Audrey Hepburn was eventually able to find such tranquility.