Season 2: Artists Who Garden

Season 2 Sponsored by Monrovia

GARDENFIT Season 2 brings 13 new episodes featuring well-known artists, who are also passionate gardeners. The guests include painters, sculptors, ceramicists, photographers, culinary pioneers, musicians, and designers. Creator and host Madeline Hooper is joined by fitness instructor Adam Schersten on a cross-country voyage, visiting unique gardens and seeing how the guests’ creative artistry is inspired by nature. Viewers will take a journey into exclusive and captivating environments, sparking plenty of visions for their own gardens. What the guests all have in common are the aches and pains associated with their gardening. After Madeline and Adam explore the guests’ imaginative gardens, Adam offers simple, easy-to-learn practical tips and tuneups that teach the guests how to prevent strain and stress by using their bodies correctly.

We can’t wait for you to meet the amazing array of guests for Season 2, all of whom are well-known artists and passionate gardeners, featuring the following: Nicholas Varney, Jewelry Designer; Frances Palmer, Ceramicist; Alice Waters, Farm-to-Table Pioneer and Food Activist; Patrick Dougherty, Environmental Artist; Jenny Elliott, Floral Designer and Farmer; Paula Hayes, Visual Artist; Jose Alvarez, (D.O.P.A.), Painter; Cynthia Meyers, Flautist and Piccolo Player; Meridith Baer, Home Stager; Leslie Martin, New Orleans Jazz Pianist; Marion Brenner, Photographer; Bunny Williams, Interior Designer; James Gop, Culinary Artist.

Nicholas Varney — Jewelry Designer


As a jewelry designer, Nicholas Varney has always been inspired by nature. His unique way of combining natural materials with precious gemstones creates an unexpected fusion of beauty rarely seen in fine jewelry. Nicholas uses the tones of the colors he sees in his flowers, vegetables, and trees. And his garden is a wonderful combination of ponds, apple orchards and a greenhouse surrounded by an apiary. Nagging back pain when weeding is addressed with body positioning and stretches for lasting relief.

Frances Palmer – Ceramicist

Episode 2: A Vase for Every Flower
Weston, CT (ZONE 7A)

Frances Palmer is a renowned ceramicist, as well as a photographer, avid gardener, entrepreneur and cook. She defines her handmade ceramics as functional art. Her daily routine consists of tending and collecting flowers from her extensive cutting gardens and letting them inspire her as she moves to her studio and creates a wide variety of vessels using white porcelain, terracotta, stoneware and white earthenware. She selects the flowers that work best with each container, to give context and scale to her pottery. Frances then artfully photographs these stunning compositions to share in her books and with her many social media followers. Long hours in the garden and studio create posture problems for Frances. Learn how to take a top-down approach to improving posture and reducing strain in the neck and shoulders. 

Alice Waters – Farm-to-Table Pioneer and Food Activist

Episode 3: Edible Classroom
Berkeley, CA  (ZONE 10A)

Alice Waters is a health food visionary who created the farm-to-table movement and pioneered California cuisine. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse, opened in 1971, became one of the most famous restaurants in the U.S. for changing the way food is sourced, prepared, and presented. She developed the Edible Schoolyard Project to bring education to students through school gardens and kitchens and encourages educators to use the garden as a classroom for all educational subjects. More than 6,200 schools across America have adopted this program. Alice learns a simple four-step arm sequence to restore shoulder movement and reduce stress while reaching high to harvest her fruit trees.

Patrick Dougherty – Environmental Artist

Episode 4: Sticks and Stones
Chapel Hill, NC  (ZONE 8A)

Patrick Dougherty is well known for his monumental-scale Stickwork sculptures, made of twigs and saplings, that invite you into a unique environment. These installations are built by him and volunteer teams in more than 350 museums, botanical gardens and public spaces around the world. By combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick also built his own house and surrounded it with the things he loves to create: stick fences, archways and amazing stone paths and walls. Patrick’s passion for building aggravates a torn Achilles tendon and he is given a series of movements to increase flexibility in the ankle and restore function to the lower legs.

Jenny Elliott – Floral Designer and Farmer

Episode 5: Field of Dreams
Hillsdale, NY  (ZONE 6A)

Jenny Elliott and her husband Luke Franco own and operate Tiny Hearts Farm, a majestic 40-acre flower farm from which they harvest beautiful flowers to design seasonal arrangements for weddings and events. They focus on organically grown flowers and foraged materials. In addition to their wholesale and floral design business, they have a retail store in Hillsdale, NY. Planting and harvesting more than 300,000 annuals each year by hand takes a toll on Jenny’s back. She gets relief from her repetitive forward bending with key on-the-go spinal stretches. 

Paula Hayes – Visual Artist

Episode 6: Little Worlds with Big Ideas
Athens, NY  (ZONE 6A)

Paula Hayes is a visual artist and designer. Known for her sculptures, art installations, and landscape design, she is perhaps best known for her terrariums. Major themes in her work are the relationship between plants and people’s connection to the natural world. This is expressed through her large and small-scale ecosystems. Her urban garden in upstate New York is a source of inspiration for her art and is filled with an abundance of colorful annuals and perennials with a focus on native plants. Heavy lifting in the garden results in aching wrists and forearms. Paula is shown how self-massage can loosen hand muscles and how to build forearm strength to protect her wrists.

Jose Alvarez, (D.O.P.A.) – Painter

Episode 7: Painting with Nature
Ft. Lauderdale, FL   (ZONE 10B)

Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A) is a well-known visual artist who started his career doing performance art around the world and is now celebrated for his brightly colored paintings that often feature natural materials, such as porcupine quills and feathers, on mica canvases.  His work is collected by many museums throughout the country. What inspires him daily is the two-acre tropical garden he created and has tended for 30 years. It provides inspiration and materials for his art and reflects his deep connection with the natural world. Maintaining his tropical garden and creating his art resulted in shoulder and arm pain. Three key movements help reduce that strain and prevent further injury. 

Cynthia Meyers – Flautist and Piccolo Player

Episode 8: A Symphony of Native Plants
Wayland, MA  (ZONE 6B)

Cynthia Meyers is a renowned musician with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, joining as its piccolo player in the autumn of 2006. She is also a passionate gardener who created a magical retreat from scratch, with a focus on an appreciation for cultivating whatever is growing in the soil, including weeds. She turned a grass front yard into a flower meadow. Her mission was to create garden habitats, and she now counts more than 60 species of pollinators who call her garden home. Cynthia is inspired by many composers and can hear the sound of nature in their symphonies. Cynthia’s knee and shoulder pains are addressed through better alignment while getting up and down from the ground and while playing her instruments.

Meridith Baer – Home Stager

Episode 9: Staging from the Outside In
Los Angeles, CA   (ZONE 10B)

Meridith Baer invented the home-staging industry 25 years ago. Now, her company is the premier home-staging firm in the nation. Her path to this design career started with her love of plants, which she would amass in pots around the houses she rented to live in. When she discovered that this helped the owners sell their houses more quickly and successfully, she parlayed this talent into an amazing career. Now at her “forever home” she moved 250 truckloads of dirt to create a tiered garden, full of fruit trees and wonderful seating areas to enjoy the outdoor accessories and furniture she has collected. Meridith learns to resolve her hip pain through simple stretches and mobility exercises.

Leslie Martin – New Orleans Jazz Pianist

Episode 10: Plants and All That Jazz
New Orleans, LA  (ZONE 9B)

Leslie Martin, a Louisiana native and accomplished pianist, has been playing jazz and classical piano for audiences in New Orleans and around the world since the late ’80s. He also is an avid gardener, with a quarter-acre plot in the heart of New Orleans that features a fascinating blend of English cottage-style gardening with Japanese traditional accents. He has built waterfalls and bridges and planted 78 cypress trees, creating a rhythmic perimeter around his property.  Repetitive hand movement from playing the piano and pruning left overworked and achy hands, which are relieved with pebble massages and finger stretches. 

Marion Brenner – Photographer

Episode 11: Framing Mother Nature
Berkeley, CA  (ZONE 10A)

Marion Brenner is one of the leading photographers of garden landscapes and architecture. She believes that a photograph should tell a story and the best photographs make you feel you’re actually in that space. Her California garden is filled to the brim with collections of the plants and trees she has amassed over the years. It’s a blending of unique cultivars and volunteer plants that creates a picture-perfect color feast for the eyes in every season. Marion’s chest tightness is relieved, and her posture improved with a stretch and muscle activation series to be used as a warmup and cooldown to both her gardening and photography sessions.

Bunny Williams – Interior Designer

Episode 12: Garden Rooms with a View
Falls Village, CT (ZONE 6A)

Bunny Williams is a world-renowned interior designer and gardener. She believes the most interesting rooms mix old and new, are beautiful to sit in and should be designed for entertaining friends. She brings her design principle outdoors by creating garden rooms and walkways that flow naturally from one to another, just like a well-designed home. Each garden room is a unique space with plant features and treasures she has collected throughout the world. There are many places to sit and intriguing vistas to enjoy. Bunny loves to collect flowers from her cutting garden and make amazing arrangements for every room in her house. With a special “kickstand” technique, Bunny learns how to turn bending over in her garden into a powerful hip-strengthening and balance-improving exercise. 

James Gop – Culinary Artist

Episode 13: Recipes on Fire
Richmond, MA  (ZONE 5B)

James Gop is a culinary inventor and the founder and chef of Heirloom Fire, a sustainable, fire-based catering and events company located in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. James and his team forage in the woods weekly to fill the kitchen pantry.  What is collected by hand is infused, dried and preserved. He is unique in creating Dinner Theater, by setting up dramatic open fire cooking events and turning foraged food into imaginatively presented meals that reflect nature’s bounty – feasts for the eyes as well as the palate. James addresses his lower back pain by learning how to bend using his hips rather than his back.