It's a simple question with a simple answer – gardening is good for you.
• Gardening is good for the soul.
Aggressive weeding is a great way to work off frustrations, while tranquil watering is a wonderful way to relax.
• Gardening helps you stay fit.
Digging, planting, weeding, watering, pruning and mulching all keep you moving. Thirty minutes of active gardening burns up to 280 calories.
• You are what you eat.
Nothing's healthier than organic, homegrown vegetables. Fresh veggies taste fabulous, too.
• Gardening is good for the community.
I've seen it time and time again – one household improves its garden and the neighbours follow the leader. I guess everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses.
• Gardening is a great investment.
My wife, a realtor, says a well-kept property not only sells a house faster, but it also usually helps sell it at a higher price. Smart tree planting can also help cut air-conditioning and heating costs by providing shade in summer and a windbreak in winter.
• Gardening is good for the environment.
Gardeners can create habitat for wildlife, and their gardens help cool their cities in the summer and improve the air quality.
• Gardening is fun.
This is the No. 1 reason I love gardening. It's a creative, continual learning process, and there are always surprises. As with life, your garden will have its successful and less successful years, but – if you look carefully – you'll always find something blooming.
• Last, but not least
Gardening is great when you share it with someone.
Frankie Flowers' top five tips for healthy gardening
1. Protect your skin with sunblock
My favourite is water-resistant, fragrance-free Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, which has a bottle that turns blue in UV light.
2. Keep a cool head
Mine gives the nod to Canada's own Tilley Endurables hats, which block 98 per cent of UVA/UVB radiation while maintaining your cool.
3. Stay hydrated
When you're working in hot weather, drink about 125 millilitres of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Stretch and lift smart
Follow the Canadian Physiotherapy Association's SMART gardening tips for warming up before you get to work (search for "SMART gardening"). And, as the old saying goes, lift with your knees, not with your back – find out how at backrelief.ca (search for "lifting").
5. Get a shot in the arm
Tetanus bacteria in soil, compost and manure can infect you through the open cuts so common to hardworking gardeners, so make sure your immunizations are up to date. Adults should get a tetanus booster shot every 10 years.
• Gardening dreams
• How gardening with your kids helps them learn
This story was originally titled "For the Love of Gardening" in the May 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!