Book Notes: Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness


When Timber Press alerted me to a new book they were publishing about gardening and fitness I was immediately interested, as you might imagine, having written about the marriage of gardening and yoga. But I was not prepared for just how much I would utterly LOVE Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness by UK’s famed and admired gardening guru, Bunny Guinness and her co-author, English physiotherapist, Jacqueline Knox. Now, just for my European and Australian readers, please note that the cover is different for you. And here it is so you can find on your local bookshelves:

Do you suppose the British are having more fun than we are here in the US? Could be. I’ll tell you this, as you might well already know, the British REALLY know how to create a garden. As my friend Marsha observed, “They’ve been doing it for a lot longer.” Maybe. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing. I don’t know. But, oh, my! This book is worth just the many inspirational photos of Brit gardens. Just take a gander:


I love the use of the box to fence in the perennials. This practice of using natural, creative ways to enclose or encase one species with another is a theme in the English garden. One of my other favs was a wonderful handwoven willow fencing about a vege patch. And here is this marvelous, yet simple patchwork affair for individual herbs and veges. Beats traditional raised beds, does it not?

Ironically, in spite of the focus and excellent instruction on how to ergonomically lift, hoe, prune, and move about your wheelbarrow without ruining yourself, one of the most inspirational sections for me personally was the emphasis on Good Tools. As a result of reading this book I have purchased in the last week a much broader rake, a long handled pruner that does not come baggaged with any sort of complicating strings or ropes, a hula hoe and a Dutch hoe (highly recommended by the authors), a nifty edging iron, and a new digging tool that is so fierce it could double as a weapon, God forbid you should ever need it. Next on the list are an apron (moi!) and a pair of Wellington boots, apparently, known affectionately as Wellies. I can wear them with my Children of the Forest wool-lined oilcloth raincoat, a personal favorite item, which reads “made in the Royal Forest of Dean, England.” Sigh. But I digress.

Here’s a wonderfully inspiring, charmingly instructional photo of what the authors recommend as basic gardening gear:


I am all atwitter just thinking about it.

I would be remiss if I did not emphasize that the primary focus of Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness is bringing our attention to the importance of warming up our bodies prior to gardening, learning to move our bodies as we work in ways that prevent injuries, and incorporate stretches and exercises into our gardening practices. The book is rich with lush photos that show us the way. Here is a lovely photo of Bunny stopping for a stretch against a handy tree while working:


And, obviously a woman who understands the importance of balance, here is a splendidly seductive suggestion (and I want one!):


Again, while the primary intention of Bunny and Jacqueline’s book is to raise our awareness of how we might use our bodies more consciously and effectively in the garden, which it does brilliantly, it is ever so much more than that, my dear readers. I have to say this is probably one of my all-time favorite gardening books, and I can readily imagine taking it into my garden as a new Garden Bible to refer to again and again, the ideas therein are so rich and abundant. Well done, ladies, and highly recommended!

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xox

13 Responses to “Book Notes: Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness”

  1. Oh my word Kathryn—-I can’t tell you how many verbs describe this post! Some of them I dare not share. I’m a tell it all. I am going to get this book. I will share it with my husband and then we shall sup our wine together. Marvelous and thanks for sharing. I do see your point!!

  2. I got so carried away that I forgot to tell you that I agree—Since reading blotanical, I have noticed that the British have the most lavish gardens. I sure admire a lot of gardens—but the British gardens are older and handed down through the generations.

  3. Hi, Anna, Do tell! 🙂 And you make an excellent point–the gardens are OLDER! Some are probably centuries older, right? Stunning thought. Thanks. Kathryn

  4. What Gorgeous pics! How inspiring!
    I’ve always adored British gardens, which are always so well organized
    and beautiful! Thanks for the lovely guidebook referral!

  5. Oh, I’m so glad you posted a review of this. I really want to like the book but I just don’t think I would be interested in how to bend (although I probably could do with the advice!).

    I love Bunny. When I saw her talk at Chelsea, based on this book, she used lots of pictures of her garden and talked about a shelter belt a lot. Anyway, I’m sure you’d have loved it.

    Have you read her book Family Gardens? Lots of lovely photos of lush English gardens in there.

    Enjoyed your review!

  6. PS. Forgot to mention, loved the veggie garden pic. What a clever idea! Oh and the circular hammock thing.

  7. Hi, Mrs. Be! I’m VERY certain I would love to have seen Bunny at the Chelsea! I thought of you as I was writing this. Don’t be intimidated by the title. As said, there is something for everyone in this book, regardless of your inclinations. I have not read Family Gardens, but I will now! Thanks for the tip. And am I right that you saw that circular thingie at the Chelsea? Thought you mentioned it in a post! Kathryn xox

  8. This post shows speaks with admiration for your gift focusing on gardening and life issues, Kathryn! Always ‘on top’, you remain our cherished mentor. Big hugs from your dear friend.

  9. Dear Joey, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Love, Kathryn

  10. Dear Kathryn,
    Thank your for reviewing this book – it has special value, as brings up the issues, that is hard to learn about, especially when one is a not experienced gardener. As far as I know gardeners with their injuries are large group of patients of physiotherapists 🙂
    and yes, British gardens are marvelous, because time is one of the fundamental dimentions of every garden.

  11. Hi, Ewa! Injured gardeners. Wow. It makes sense. As for British gardens, my soul is longing to stand in them, I must admit. Impossibly hard to wrap my mind around the fact I lived in Amsterdam for three years and never once crossed that channel. Way too busy with life as a mom and as a performing artist…yet another story. Kathryn xox

  12. Now that, Kathryn, was fun. Great read/peek. Thanks!

  13. Hi, David! Glad you enjoyed! Kathryn xxoo

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