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The Lifelong Gardener – 3.25 stars


Very practical information for gardening as we age

The Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers read and discussed The Lifelong Gardener by Toni Gattone at the May 2023 Book Club. Over a dozen Master Gardener volunteers read the book and shared their thoughts in small group discussion.

In general, the book offered very practical solutions for ways to address common struggles that aging gardeners face, like fading grip strength and balance issues. Many are easy for anyone to do on their own but there were also suggestions for specific tools, which can get expensive.

As a gardener ages, it seems natural that there will be changes in physical ability. The Master Gardeners in the discussion shared stories about how their own gardening habits have had to change over time and ways they have found to adjust to those changes. It can be difficult to accept those changes, especially if "Gardener" has become a part of your identity. The book does a good job of helping the reader process and accept those changes as natural and not as some kind of symbol that they are no longer gardeners.

The readers discussed the potential conflict of interest. The author was a garden tool sales representative and sells tools online, in addition to being a Master Gardener and an author. They also discussed the reliability of medical information from the book, given that the author is not a health practitioner.

The book was very easy to read but at times felt condescending as the author made assumptions about what a person can and cannot do in the garden after age 65. As the readers said, not every gardener is going to progress along these lines and especially not at the same rate. It's up to them to find the best way for themselves but, the book does offer a lot of easy ways to adjust existing habits.

Reader Poll

  1. Enjoyable—3.25 out of 5 stars

  2. Educational— 3.50 out of 5 stars

  3. Recommended—3.00 out of 5 stars

Reader Comments

The readers shared their thoughts about this book:

  • I liked the practical advice about tools and adaptive measures.

  • I enjoyed the tool section the most.

  • The book had good suggestions for application.

  • It was very practical.

  • I liked the practical information for gardening as we age.

  • I liked the recommendation to reduce ones lawn.

  • I appreciated the tool recommendations and advice about the important of sharpening tools.

  • There was excellent suggestions for how to assist people encountering troubles.

  • I thought it dragged in the first chapter and most of the second chapter but I really enjoyed the third chapter.

  • I ordered a few tools on recommendations from the book.

Find this book

You can find this book at the Ramsey County Library. There are physical copies of the book and ebook options (via MELSA) available to readers in Ramsey County for free.

Next Book Club Discussion: The Nature Fix

In July, the Master Gardener volunteers will be discussing The Nature Fix;

Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams.


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