Get Happy and Healthy at RHS Garden Harlow Carr during National Gardening Week

Tuesday 29 March 2016

• Find out how gardens and gardening can make you happy and healthy • Learn about the jobs that will help you get fit in your own garden • Take part in morning T’ai Chi classes, kitchen garden tours or add your own thoughts on gardening to our ‘Tree of Thoughts’

Find out how gardening can boost your health and happiness during National Gardening Week (NGW) at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire (11 - 17 April 2016).

The theme for this year’s NGW – the country’s biggest celebration of gardening – is ‘Get Fit in the Garden’, designed to show how gardens can boost both our physical and mental health and highlight how easy it is to get those feel-good endorphins flowing with a spot of gardening.

Katherine Musgrove, Garden Manager at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, said: “Many doctors now recognise the positive benefits that green spaces have on both our physical and mental health. Gardens are the perfect ‘green gym’: they’re free, on your own doorstep and the ideal place to get fit without the need for expensive equipment or the latest gym gear.

“The weekly lawn mowing regime can help us maintain a healthy weight, everyday activities such as hoeing and weeding are great for toning the arms and digging will ensure you break a sweat. If you spend your time tending the vegetable patch or allotment, there’s the added bonus that you can eat the fruits of your labour too.”

In addition to the physical benefits of gardening, there is also growing evidence that simply being outdoors and interacting with nature is hugely beneficial for our mental health and can help to reduce stress levels. Katherine said: “Gardens offer a natural health service, with more than 90% of people in the UK saying that just looking at a garden lifts their mood.”

To celebrate National Gardening Week, Harlow Carr is offering a range of activities to visitors:

• Enjoy weekday morning T’ai Chi sessions
• Hear personal stories about the physical and emotional benefits of working outdoors during ‘Meet the gardener’ sessions
• Join a tour of the kitchen garden
• Share what gardening means to you by hanging notes on our ‘Tree of Thoughts’

Community partners from throughout Yorkshire - including Henshaws College and Autism Plus – will visit the garden to create their own herb planters to sell in a 'pop up shop' within Harlow Carr’s Plant Centre. 50% of the sale price will go directly to the community group.

On Friday 15 April, entry to the garden is free as part of National Open Gardens Day and there will be outdoor cookery sessions demonstrating healthy ‘plot to plate’ recipes. The Alpine Garden Society will also be in the garden (15 – 17 April) to show people how to create small alpine rock gardens, ideal for those with the smallest outdoor spaces.

Ideas to get fit in your own garden include:

Work up a sweat digging:
digging is probably the best way to get a work out in the garden. Prepare your ground for sowing by digging in bulky organic matter like manure or leaf mould. This will improve drainage and make sure your soil is packed with nutrients ready for sowing with all those healthy veggies. A person weighing around nine stone will burn 150 calories in half an hour of digging, according to Harvard Medical School – and the heavier you are, the more you burn. Choose a spade with a handle that comes up to about waist height. It is best to keep the digging action near your body, engage your abdominal muscles and keep your back upright. Digging is great exercise for your quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks, which should be hard at work, as well as for your trunk, shoulders and arms.

Rake to the rhythm: moss grows vigorously in the damp cool conditions of winter and can leave your pathways slippery and your lawn overgrown. Forget the aerobics, get your headphones on and rake to the rhythm – it’s a great way to replace your aerobics class. Raking the lawn for 30 minutes burns around 120 calories – that’s the same as the calories burned in a half hour of T’ai Chi, volleyball and even horseback riding. According to Bunny Guinness, landscape architect, journalist and author of the book ‘Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness’, raking should use the muscles of the entire upper body including your shoulders, the pectorals across your chest, and your abdominal muscles.

Flex your muscles by moving your plants: spring is a good time to start moving any plants in pots you’ve been keeping in the greenhouse back outdoors and into the sun – at least during the daytime – to get them used to colder temperatures again. Say goodbye to the dumbbells and give yourself a workout heaving your pot about instead, just remember to bend at the knees, not the waist. Bunny Guinness recommends squatting with your feet apart, grasping the pot with two hands, keeping your back as straight as possible as you rise and drawing strength from your pelvic floor and lower stomach muscles, which should be lifted up and in.

Replace resistance training with mowing: most lawns in spring won’t have grown enough to need machine mowing. Instead, use a hand mower, keeping the settings high to avoid cutting the grass too short, and push it round the garden yourself. The faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn, and hand mowing typically burns around 165 calories per 30 minutes for a person weighing around nine stone – that’s over 30 calories more than using a power mower. Trimming the edges of your lawns is good for those who want to bend and stretch as well. A 2014 survey by the RHS found that double the number of men are happiest in the garden when mowing the lawn compared to women, who preferred planting and weeding.

Stay limber by pruning: forget chanting sutras, roll up your Yoga mat and keep yourself flexible instead by pruning ornamental vines. Creepers like wisteria, ivy and Virginia creeper often grow high up and need regular pruning to stop them taking over spaces so invest in a good pair of secateurs or loppers and stretch, twist and bend as you get your plants and yourself into shape.

Normal garden admission applies except for Friday 15 March which is free. Visit or call 01423 565418 for more details and times.

Please contact Ali Aston, Marketing & PR Executive with any press queries on 01423 724693, email or Sasha Jackson-Brown on 01423 724651, email


Notes to editors

RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1QB
SatNav: HG3 1UE 

Opening times
Harlow Carr is open every day except for Christmas Day
9.30am – 4pm November to February inclusive
9.30am – 6pm March to October inclusive
Last admission is one hour before closing time

Admission prices
RHS members enjoy free entry with a family guest (entitlements may vary according to membership type
Non-members (excluding Gift Aid)
Adult £10.00
Family (2 plus 2) £25.50
Children 5 – 16yrs £5.00
Children under 5 years Free
Groups £9.00

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

HS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262