Gardening is supposed to be good for your health. And overall, it is. You can burn 150 calories just raking leaves for a half-hour. But what happens when you’ve gardened professionally for 15 years, plus another six at home? The repetitive motion and strain take its toll. The toll began in January of 2014. I was invited to feature my garden on our local town’s garden tour. During that spring, I worked from morning until dusk on my yard. I worked on clients’ yards. In June, after the tour was finished, I installed a design for a homeowner in Seattle. Her yard’s topsoil had been bulldozed away to build the new house. Unfortunately, this left a layer of hardpan to plant in.
I worked for several hours with my digging bar to plant the plants. A digging bar looks like a giant iron nail. The bottom is flat and pointed like a screwdriver. You pound this bar into hard soil to make a hole. I did that a lot for this client, plus an entire summer of other gardening jobs. By August, I started waking up to numb hands and arms. I was petrified. Thinking I had MS, I visited the doctor and was told I had neuropathy, a wearing out of the nerves from heavy lifting and repetitive motion. That made sense. I had been vibrating the heck out of my wrists with a digging bar. And hauling heavy pots, and digging dirt, and cutting plants, and weeding a million weeds. So I started a suite of exercises. In a few months, my tendons strengthened. I started working again. And my hands worked well for me for a few years, until this last summer.
To make a long story, short, I am on a professional break from all physical labor involved in gardening. (I still do consultations and designs.) In the meantime, while I work to strengthen my tendons again, I thought writing about gardening would be a good way to help people. I’ve revamped my website to make finding information about gardening easier. I will also be writing more frequent posts. In fact, I will be writing about not only gardening but other aspects of a cultivated life, for people who appreciate self-improvement and home-improvement. We cultivate ourselves through gardening, exercising, eating good food, decorating our homes, enjoying quality entertainment. Hence, my website’s new name, The Cultivated Life.
I’ve also put together a PDF of the best plants I think no Northwest homeowner should be without. I’m giving it away as a gift for subscribing to my newsletter. The newsletter will be a compendium of gardening tips, my new writings, book, music & film ideas, and life inspiration. If you follow this blog and don’t want to receive a lot of posts (I should be posting about three times a week), then signing up for the newsletter (and unsubscribing from posts) is the best choice. Please subscribe to the newsletter. The form is in the sidebar of the home page.
Thank you for your support, readers. I will be doing my strengthening exercises. The good news is I can at least feel my hands!