One would be inclined to think that gardening is an activity best enjoyed while donning clothing: pants with integrated kneepads, big-pocketed overalls, breathable base-layers, canvas aprons, comfortable yet durable shoes that can be mucked up beyond recognition and, to top it all off, a wide brim hat for optimum sun protection.
But as is customary on the first Saturday in May, gardeners across the globe are encouraged to do away with all of that — save for a few choice protective accessories if necessary — and dig in without the burden of restrictive attire.
Founded in 2005 in Seattle by Nude & Natural magazine editor Mark Storey and permaculturist Jacob Gabriel, World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD) is an annual event in which gardeners, both novices and seasoned greenthumbs alike, can feel free to take it all off and "tend their portion of the world’s garden unclothed as nature intended."
A non-political and non-sexual celebration of body positivity and small-scale farming, the event initially targeted practicing naturists who may have already been apt to spend a sunny weekend afternoon weeding in their birthday suits. As the event has grown in popularity (particularly in the U.K. where starkers gardening was already kind of a thing), those who don’t normally drop trou before trimming the hedges have joined in.
And while private backyards are the most popular places to soak in some serious Vitamin D and observe the world’s only clothes-free horticultural holiday, Storey explained to Today.com in 2011 that naked indoor gardening is encouraged as well.
"There could be some little old lady in an apartment building in the middle of a big city, trying to put her potted plant into a bigger pot. That would count," he says, emphasizing that there are no steadfast rules accompanying World Naked Garden Day. "We live in a pretty artificial world, and there’s something nice about helping something that has a hard time helping itself — plants, in this case."
Baring it all in Bayou City
To mark the occasion, Austin, Texas-based lawn care company Lawnstarter has once again published a list of the top American cities in which to strip down and grab a pair of pruning shears.
Based on nationwide meteorological forecasts and not other factors such as public nudity laws, density (read: prying neighbors) or the abundance of poison oak, this year’s top cities for celebrating World Naked Gardening Day have shifted from 2016.
In 2016, for example, Miami claimed the top spot with Oklahoma City coming in second. But with rain apparently in the forecast for Miami this year, Florida’s most populous city doesn’t even appear anywhere on the top 15. Instead, 2016’s sixth-place ranker, Houston, has ascended to the top.
So just a heads up Houstonians: if you spot old Mr. McSweeney tramping through his backyard veggie patch wearing nothing but a bandana around his neck and a wide grin on his face, don’t be too alarmed.
Taking into consideration the top 100 most populous metro areas, the folks at Lawnstarter based Houston’s superlative nude gardening friendliness on four factors: the forecasted temperature, humidity, wind speed and cloudiness for May 6. From there, Lawnstarter compared this data with ideal weather benchmarks: a high temperature of 75 degrees, humidity of 45 percent, 5 mile per hour winds and zero percent cloudiness.
So even if pants-free gardening isn’t something you’re interesting in exploring on May 6 or ever, normally oppressively swampy Houston, it would seem, looks to be a perfectly lovely place to frolic outdoors this weekend thanks to low humidity and comfortable temps topped off with a gentle breeze.
Following Houston on the list are Dallas-Fort Worth; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Oklahoma City; Austin; Springfield, Missouri; McAllen, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Wichita, Kansas.
Boston, New Orleans and Indianapolis are among the cities that appeared on Lawnstarter's 2016 list but failed to make the cut this year. For the most part, the cities to be identified as having ideal conditions for naked gardening have embraced this unusual recognition.
Oddly, the Tampa Bay Area, undoubtedly the best place to be nude in the lower 48, didn't make the cut despite showing some promising weather.
Pants off, trowels out
Unlike Seattle, the drizzly city in which World Naked Gardening Day got its start, many of the cities (save for Austin) that top Lawnstarter’s list aren’t exactly known for being bastions of liberal-thinking and self-expression. Translation: they’re not inherently the most hospitable towns in which to take up the practice of watering your tomato plants in the nude.
This is perhaps why Lawnstarter has published a complementary list ranking the top 10 U.S. metro areas that are the most curious about World Naked Gardening Day. The list is based on Google Trends search data for the term "World Naked Gardening Day" pulled from a two-month period starting on March 15, 2016 and ending shortly after the conclusion of World Naked Gardening Day, on May 15, 2016.
Eugene, the famously open-minded and outdoors-y Oregon burg where gardening and naturism are already two popular recreational pursuits although not always necessarily combined, topped the list. Considering Eugene’s reputation, this isn't a big shocker.
More surprising are the towns that followed Eugene on the list. The residents of Buffalo, New York; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Michigan; Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia; and Spokane, Washington, among others, all showed keen interest in au natural gardening per Google Trends data. Little Rock is the only city to appear on both Lawnstarter's most curious and best weather lists — so Little Rock residents who were Googling World Naked Gardening Day nonstop last year appear to be in luck this year.
Geographic locales aside, do you ever tend to your garden in the buff or plan on observing World Naked Gardening Day for the first time?