Have you tried nude gardening?
World Naked Gardening Day rolls around every year on the first Saturday in May, and this international outdoor holiday is not for the bashful.
But it’s an opportunity for you to get out there in nature and experience the feel of the dirt beneath your feet, the ornamental grasses tickling your nether regions, the shade of a tall tree on your bare back, grazing past the vines and veggies in your carefully planted rows without a spot of clothes on in between.
From Mundane to Sublime
Gardening, for most of us, is in large part utilitarian – we transplant and weed and water, trim and deadhead, mow and sow to create that perfect look.
While carefully tending those clean lines and lush grasses, and picking perfect produce, we might occasionally pause to watch a few flower petals float by on a warm breeze.
We garden to eat, to fill empty spaces, to create a calming and restorative oasis that we can relax in and enjoy, or even to impress the neighbors.
Sometimes, it can be a bit of a chore.
Yup, those are sex organs, luscious and fragrant, calling to the bees and the butterflies to do their thing.
They happily flit about to sip nectar and pollinate, spreading the love around and making magic, setting off a spark that produces ripe, heavy, and delicious fruit, bursting with seeds.
Flowers come in a variety of styles, some deep like bells, others perfectly symmetrical and miniature and tightly closed, still others voluptuous and enticingly showy, with ruffled edges.
Pick a spot on the rainbow, and you will find a flower to match your desire.
Some species are even dioecious, with both male and female flowers on a single plant that can self-pollinate.
But they still benefit from bonus love taps via friendly pollinating insects, hummingbirds, and the wind.
This virile, fertile, sexual dance is a joyful one. And on a sunny day in May, you’ll be called to join in that dance.
Don’t resist. Listen closely for the beat to drop – trust me, it will – and move your body like nobody’s watching.
Or, get down with your bad self like everybody’s watching, if that’s your thing. The croaking frogs and nut-hoarding squirrels and cackling grackles certainly will be.
Flow like a sultry snake, vibe in praying mantis pose, soar like a dragonfly.
Experiencing the Garden Through the Senses
Of course, World Naked Gardening Day is not just about doing a jig around the fairy ring in the buff and soaking up some rays while you primp and prune.
I see it as an opportunity to become fully absorbed in the garden, a chance to maximize one’s experience of nature in a sensory, embodied way.
On the arrival of the 16th Annual WNGD, wake up early in the morning and stretch with the rising sun.
Inhale the fecund aromas and gaze upon the awe-inspiring landscape that surrounds you. Absorb it through your pores, your retinas, your vibrating eardrums. Feel it on your skin. Taste it with your tongue.
Allow the many plants that fill your space to envelop you and take you in, and feel their presence with your full being, wearing only a smile.
Take pleasure in the variety of scents and taste sensations that the garden provides.
True, it’s probably too early in the season for those particular delights to make an appearance in most growing zones.
But imagine the crisp snap of a just-picked pea pod, and its sweet flavor on your tongue. The peppery taste of arugula, a verdant rocket shooting to the skies. Or the sweet-tart zing of a ruby-colored strawberry, studded with tiny seeds.
These titillating treasures can be yours, to consume slowly, and lovingly.
Pinch a leaf of mint or rosemary and inhale slowly, as far as you can, taking the fresh, herbal fragrance deep down into your lungs. Munch on an edible flower. Bury your nose in a tuft of soft, damp, earthy moss.
This is bliss.
The garden is also a sea of texture – soft and hard, sharp and smooth, tender and bristle-covered.
Take caution – some plants can bite, or leave you with an itchy rash as a reminder of your dirty deeds. Do your research first if you need to, as all of us can have different skin sensitivities.
And then go wild, experimenting with the feel of a smooth seed pod, a soft branch, or a coiled vine languorously stretching its tendrils skyward, absentmindedly grasping for a foothold.
The touch of velvet rose petals on bare skin is a favorite of mine. Go inward to discover what you lust for, and do your thing.
A true connoisseur of World Naked Gardening Day knows this holiday is about experiencing the garden with all of your senses:
Listening intently to the birdsong and the rustle of field mice in the meadow, or the plop of a toad from floating lily pad to deep, cool pond water.
It’s about taking in every shade of green imaginable through your eyes, and gazing into the middle distance to find still more.
Feeling the warm embrace of leaf-covered branches overhead, and the tender kiss of soft petals.
Inhaling an orgy of intoxicating scents.
Tasting the tart, warm juices of wild berries, and the sweet nectar of pink and yellow honeysuckle blossoms.
Imagine tickling a fluffy seed head down your lover’s spine, watching soft buds unravel in the sunshine, and hearing ripe seed pods explode with a juicy pop.
Ecstasy is all around you, verdant and bursting from the earth, engorged with new life. And you are a part of it. Your friends and lovers and gardening companions are all a part of it.
A Healthy Exercise
There are potential health benefits to this all-nude holiday as well.
Bathe in the forest and feel your heart rate slow, your stress levels drop. Phytoncide is no joke – and no, this is not another word for plant murder.
Rather, it’s a chemical released naturally by trees and other plants, proven to actually improve immune function and other markers of health, and to boost feelings of general well-being.
Don’t have all day? That’s okay.
Immerse yourself for at least a half hour or so on this special occasion to reap the full benefits, and be fully present. Take a mental picture, and seal it up in an envelope in your mind to return to on a rainy day.
But please, if you’re free to luxuriate, take your time. You deserve it. You need it.
Studies have shown that picking fresh produce straight from the garden releases a rush of dopamine, and playing in dirt filled with Mycobacterium vaccae, a naturally occurring bacterium in the soil, boosts serotonin levels.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s linked to pleasure, and it makes us feel happy, euphoric even, and sexy, too.
In addition to improving mood and other functions, it can aid our feelings of motivation and sleep, as well as attention and movement.
Serotonin, another neurotransmitter, also boosts those feelings of well-being, as well as aiding other healthy functions in the body.
These chemical messengers work together, with dopamine signaling our feelings of pleasure, and serotonin popping in to make us feel satiated.
And you can get all of that from gardening, you guys!
Relax, Dance, and Enjoy
When is the last time that you were naked in the great outdoors?
Without the burden of clothes, we can be as free as the local wildlife. Pick up a handful of rich, cool earth and inhale deeply, then let it sift through your fingers and onto your bare toes. Dance to the beat of a butterfly’s wings.
If you discover that you’re experiencing any feelings of resistance, take note: this is not uncommon. See if you can gently let these feelings go, take some deep, grounding breaths, and open your mind to full immersion in the experience of naked gardening.
While it’s true that this isn’t something that most of us grew up doing, I’ve found my own experiences of nudity in nature to be endlessly rewarding and joyful. Keep your physical safety and the safety of others in mind, don’t violate any local laws, and shed those threads.
Who knows, maybe this is something that you’ll find yourself doing again and again!
Take a nap on the warm grass and allow your mind to be filled with sultry daydreams, then pick up your hoe again and get to work, plucking out the spent foliage and making way for new growth to emerge.
After that, go back and do it all again. You’ve got all day.
And when it’s time for the sun to sink below the horizon, take a sip of cool, clear water, and pause for a moment to thank the Earth.
Thank the native wild plants and the cultivated ones, the microbes and mycelium and earthworms in the soil, the honeybees and ladybugs. Bid the wildlife that calls your green space home a pleasant goodnight.
If you just can’t tear yourself away, spread out on the lawn or curl up in a cozy blanket and watch as the planets and stars come out.
The waxing moon will be nearly full on May 2nd this year.
Listen for the night birds, feel the thump of a bat’s wings pumping against the cool air, and watch as the spiders weave their gossamer webs…
Where Will You Be on World Naked Gardening Day?
Are you ready to drop trou, grab a shovel, and get out there? Don’t forget your sunscreen! I’ll be celebrating right out there with you on May 2nd.
Feeling inspired? Check out these articles next for more fun activities to do in the garden:
- Build a Greenhouse Out of Free Pallet Racking
- Your Guide to Growing Chicken Scratch Greens for Healthy Chickens
- A Box to Call Home: Build Your Own Bat House with Our DIY Instructions
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 4, 2020. Last updated: March 9, 2020 at 2:02 am. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu grew up with her hands in the dirt in southeastern Pennsylvania, and she is now based in sunny LA. She holds a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College as well as an MA in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen making a fresh green juice or whipping up something tasty for dinner, Allison enjoys perusing the latest seed catalogs, tending her patio garden, and reading up on the latest in food and agriculture policy.