“It’s silly to go on assuming that you should be in pain from gardening,” she recalled thinking. “There’s no reason to be.”

The basic structure of the story is straightforward: the pair visits 14 gardens and small specialized farms all around the United States. Each stop starts with a tour of a famous location, including Matt Larkin’s topiary collection at Black Barn Farm in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Hills and Lauren Springer’s resilient garden in low-rainfall Fort Collins, Colorado.

But Mr. Hughes isn’t just enjoying the scenery. He’s watching the gardener at least as closely, with an ulterior motive.

“When it comes time to sit down with them later in the day,” he said, “I’ve already got a pretty good idea of how they carry their body and what tasks they’re doing.”

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Mr. Hughes reminds Ms. Hooper about the repetitive one-sidedness of garden tasks like raking. Making a habit of deliberately twisting in the other direction can help counterbalance the effect.

Mr. Hughes reminds Ms. Hooper about the repetitive one-sidedness of garden tasks like raking. Making a habit of deliberately twisting in the other direction can help counterbalance the effect.Credit…

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times