There’s no cure for “green thumb.” Of course having a green thumb isn’t a health problem, but it can lead to some troubling issues.
Gardeners love making the world a more beautiful place, that’s why they invest so much time tending to their backyard creations. But that comes with a price: the bending, crouching, crawling, digging, standing and frequent lifting. That doesn’t stop Beverly Hoyt, a 65-year old retiree living in Zephyrhills, Florida.
“I’ve had a garden for years, it’s something I wouldn’t ever want to give up,’ she says.
Beverly enjoys fostering the growth of her flowers and plants, especially tomatoes and the occasional cucumber or rhubarb. She also loves enhancing the beauty of her garden by landscaping — she loves designing stone paths, rock gardens, and adding ornaments.
“I’ve carried more rocks than I care to remember,” Beverly says, “and pounds and pounds of wood chips, mulch, fertilizer, all of it.”
Gardening doesn’t only require a strong back, it can cause pain and soreness in the hands too. Handling tools and planting require dexterity and patience. Decades filled with hours spent in the garden have led Hoyt to experience pain in her wrists and hands. Also, in more than 30 years as a case worker for the State of Michigan, Hoyt performed a lot of keyboarding and other computer-related work that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
“I’ve never had to have any surgeries and I’m in pretty good shape still,” she said. Hoyt retired to Florida a few years ago and shares a home with her mother, an octogenarian who walks three to four miles per day and also uses miraFlex to combat soreness.
1,200 miles west and north of Florida, Carol Barrymore grows her garden in Oklahoma City, a place where the weather can be brutal on green leafy things.
“We have to contend with the humidity, the insects, and of course the wind,” Barrymore says. Retired now after several years as a teacher, Carol claims the expansive garden in her backyard belongs to her husband Steve. “He started it, it was his idea, but now I spend as much time as he does out here.”
The Barrymore garden features twelve rows of plants, many of them tomatoes tenderly cared for by the couple. Oklahoma City averages seventy days of 90-degree-plus weather each year (in 2003 they had 17 straight days over 100 degrees) so that means a lot of watering and checking on the health of the plants.
“There’s a challenge in Oklahoma City, but the red dirt always delivers,” she says.
Though we were pleased with the photos from our gardening photoshoot with Carol, she was not always easy to work with. She was far from being a modeling diva — it was that she rarely wanted to stand still. She was focused on doing her gardening. But we got Carol, a wonderfully sweet woman who shared with us how she met her husband Steve (“I didn’t like him at first, but he was persistent”) and how their life together has been a thrilling journey (“He’s the nicest man”). But eventually we got Carol to stay in one place long enough for us to capture her in her element.
A few days a week Carol has an eager helper: her grandson spends the day with her and the preschooler loves to bounce around the garden to help grandma. To keep up with him, Carol has to make sure she’s in top form, which includes using miraFlex to reduce any soreness swelling from her gardening regimen.
“I love having him here, it’s the highlight of my week,” Carol says, “if I had his energy this garden would stretch to the moon.”