When GardenFit kicks off on American Public Television on March 21, the first episode will hit close to home, spotlighting Bucks County’s Hortulous Farm Garden & Nursery. Expert gardener Madeline Hooper and personal trainer Jeff Hughes collaborated on the concept for the new series, where gardeners and farmers around the country share their philosophies, techniques, and physical ailments and other occasional woes.
MLT: How did the concept for the GardenFit series come about?
MH: I’ve been a lifelong gardener and always had a stiff neck and exhausted shoulders and back. I thought it was something you lived with— until a friend recommended Jeff. I kept training with him and learning how to not let things like gardening stress my body. I learned how to hold my body and be aware of it. I told Jeff he should write a book.
JH: But my fixes are too compact and concise for a book—they work too quickly.
MH: So the idea became a destination show. These visionary gardeners show us the concepts for their gardens—why they created certain things—more than how to plant. They share a respect for the health of their garden.
JH: I observe the gardeners to identify how they’re stressing their bodies, then show them fixes.
MLT: How did you pick Hortulous Farm?
MH: [Owner] Renny Reynolds is a lifelong friend. He has a huge, dramatic garden that took years to develop—and a huge personality. Seeing gardens like his opens the mind to what’s possible—what types of plants work and how to respect the environment.
JH: Renny had very typical gardening aches and was wearing a knee brace when I met him. He always wore it when he was gardening, even without any pain.
MLT: Any hints about future episodes?
MH: We go to a Japanese garden, a desert garden, a saffron farm.
JH: And no, Renny doesn’t wear a brace to garden anymore.