May 3rd, 2011

Effortless Gardening Class, New at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Cathy Butler, Effortless Gardening Instructor

Cathy Butler, Effortless Gardening Instructor

by Cathy Butler, guest blogger & instructor at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Cathy Butler is a certified Feldenkrais Method® instructor, who will be teaching a class on Effortless Gardening™ at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on May 14th -15 (10 am – 3 p.m. Saturday, Sunday 1 – 4 p.m.) We’ve asked her to share a bit about her class since it is a new offering at the Garden and uses a relatively unknown technique.

I came across the Effortless Gardening program soon after I had dived into landscaping the yard of my husband’s and my newly bought home in Northern California.  I loved being settled in a place where I could get my hands dirty and make the decisions about what plants would go where, but in my eagerness to get plants in and to move away concrete and weeds I often over did it  and felt horrible afterward.    I wasn’t new to the Feldenkrais Method® of movement that Effortless Gardening  is based on, so it seemed like a natural fit to me, and now I teach others about it.

The structure of the workshop is simple and effective:

  1. Do a test.  Go out in the garden and do something like digging or hoeing or weeding for a minute or two and notice what parts of you start to get tired or sore or feel like they won’t hold up for long.
  2. Then go inside and do a Feldenkrais lesson.  Feldenkrais lessons are gentle, easy movement lessons that help the nervous system work more efficiently and thus aid the body in moving with better mechanics.   We want to work smarter, not harder.
  3. After the lesson, go outside and do the test again.  Ask yourself: Does this same activity feel any different?  Do I spontaneously dig (or hoe or weed) with less effort and strain?
  4. Then comes coaching.  The Feldenkrais practitioner demonstrates how to most effectively do that garden task.
  5. Practice some more.  Everyone in the workshop gets to practice this new way.
  6. Individual attention.  Since everyone’s body is different, with different strengths and limitations, individual coaching is a valuable tool to help gardeners start to do things in these new ways.

Bottom line.  If you do something in a way that hurts you, and you want to keep doing that thing without the pain, then you need to learn to do it differently. The Feldenkrais lessons work on this via the nervous system while the coaching and individual attention work on it through demonstration, hands-on practice and verbal instruction.

After learning and practicing the principles of Effortless Gardening, I started to enjoy gardening much more, so much so that I’ve started sharing these principles with others.

If you still want to learn more about Effortless Gardening before registering for the class, you can see a video of how the method works or view a demonstration.



Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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