I have been following gardener and author Shawna Coronado online for so long I can’t even remember how I first encountered her. She has long been one of my gardening role models. Although she lives near Chicago, she has managed to turn her yard into a mostly edible mini paradise. She is full of tips on how to fit gardens into any kind of environment you might have, and all year long she posts envy-inducing pictures of what she has managed to grow.

A short while ago, Shawna announced the sad news that she had been diagnosed with a degenerative osteoarthritis in her spine. This not only caused her a lot of daily pain, but it also meant, she knew, a major change in how she would live. Those of you who are gardeners know that gardening is not exactly just clipping the roses. You often have to lift really heavy bags of soil, mulch, or manure, there is a lot of bending down and standing back up, and sometimes pulling out those darned dandelions can get you into some awkward positions. So I’ve heard…

Shawna initially was devastated by her diagnosis, but she did not want to just take it lying down. Working with several specialists, she made significant diet adjustments and also altered the tools she used and how she gardened. Then, being the awesome person she is, she put everything she has learned into an amazing little book called The Wellness Garden.

Oh ye cynics, do not fear. This is not a book about sitting on the floor surrounded by aromatherapy candles and repeating a chant backwards. Actually, there are several different categories of people who will find this book useful, including people who are already gardeners, people who need to add more fresh produce into the diet (that would be everyone so far as I know), or people who want to start growing their own food but don’t quite know how to get started. There is enough detail to keep experienced people interested, but there is enough explanation to help novices stay engaged.

Actually, the amount of education you receive by sitting down with this book is hard to believe. You learn what kinds of foods tend to help reduce inflammation, which can be helpful for everyone but most especially to arthritis sufferers. You learn how to prepare soil in the garden, how you can prepare a “living wall” garden, how you can make sure your garden is set up both for easy access gardening and easy access enjoyment, the benefits of Yoga, and more. That may sound like a little more information than what you want to take on in your free time, so rest assured the photography in the book is absolutely stunning, so there is plenty of visual engagement and beauteous distraction.

The Wellness Garden is a really quick read, but it is not the kind of book you read once and then file away. I plan on keeping the book out as I work on planning my garden (spring will come eventually, guys. It always does). There are a lot of pages you’ll want to bookmark as well. Shawna offers advice on what plants combine together best if you’re using an in-the-ground garden or a container garden, for example. There are also guides regarding plants that can do well in shade versus plants that require full sun for 6-8 hours a day, and lots of other information you’ll want to reference on a regular basis.

Perhaps the best thing about the book is that you know all of the advice is being passed on from medical specialists, and while no promises are made that everything will work for you (all of our bodies are different), it is inspiring to see Shawna write about how much her symptoms subsided when she figured out what foods triggered inflammation in her system.

I got my copy of the book off Amazon. I encourage you to look up Ms. Coronado on social media channels as she is always giving away important information and beautiful pictures. I follow her most on Facebook and you can also learn about her other books on her website.

Give me a shout and let me know what you think if you decide to give this book a shot!