OK, Philadelphia, time to drop your pants and dig up some plants!
The City of Brotherly Love ranks fourth on the list of “2023’s Best Cities for Naked Gardening,” according to the website Lawnstarter.com, just in time for World Naked Gardening Day on May 6.
Gardening naked is a thorny subject for some, but the city is already home to the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride. And, LawnStarter noted, it also has a high interest and friendliness toward urban gardening.
Katelyn Ginsberg, an owner of Primex Garden Center in Glenside, wasn’t aware of the trend. But she offered some friendly advice for the underclothed and over-soiled.
“Do what makes you happy, and don’t forget bug stuff and sunscreen!” Ginsberg said. She also offered some safety tips. “I would avoid heavy pruning and pruning of roses. Don’t forget, leaves of three (poison ivy), let it be!”
Ginsberg told DVJournal she asked her employees if any of their regular customers were enjoying nature Au Naturel. Everyone got a laugh out of the question, she said. “Thanks for making our day over here.”
Poison ivy was also on the list of concerns for Chester County’s “The Nightgown Gardener” blogger Carla Zambelli Mudry.
“Well, occasionally, I actually do a little gardening in my nightgown, hence the title of my gardening blog. But it’s nothing too strenuous or heavy-duty because, after all, we’re talking about a nightgown and slippers.
“When it comes to Naked Gardening Day, that is a concept that just cracks me up. I live practically in the woods, so naked gardening would be highly impractical for me because of things like deer ticks and poison ivy. It can also be a little chilly early in the mornings this time of year!”
But Halsie Bowers, owner of Sunny Rest Resort, a nudist resort in the Poconos, is definitely familiar with the special day honoring clothing-free cultivators.
“I think Naked Gardening Day is a day of cultural acceptance and celebrating of the naked body in our natural environment such as the garden,” said Bowers. “There is something very grounding about embracing the sun in our natural form as humans while also being one with the earth’s soil and plants.”
Richie Bernardo, LawnStarter’s managing editor, told DVJournal he did not know how many people garden in the nude.
“At the moment, the best indicator we have is Google search volume, which averages about 4,900 per month nationally for search terms related to World Naked Gardening Day. But it is most likely to increase in the days leading up to the holiday,” said Bernardo. “However, we plan to conduct a survey next year to better gauge actual participation.”
He agreed that sunscreen and insect repellent are essential.
“To avoid running afoul of the law, it’s best to garden in the nude within the privacy of a fence — as high as necessary to avoid visibility from neighbors and passersby,” said Bernardo. “Tall bushes — the ones that grow in your yard — also help. That’s unless, of course, you live in one of the few cities that allow public nudity or a state that protects toplessness freedom.
“The naked truth about public nudity is that America is generally against it — at least, our legislators are. Many state indecent-exposure laws include private property (if visible to others) among the areas where nudity is disallowed. But intention also matters,” Bernardo complained.
In Pennsylvania, it’s a misdemeanor to expose one’s (ahem) “twigs or berries” where someone could see and be offended. The crime could result in fines and up to two years in jail.
Bernardo recommends keeping some clothing handy, just in case of a delivery or other intrusion.
“You never know whom you might offend, even if naked gardening is completely innocent,” he said.
Asked about tools, Bernardo said, “We recommend covering sharp tools with a leather sheath when not in use — and avoid power tools in general.”
At least one former Delaware Valley resident was skeptical, noting Philadelphia’s current high rate of shootings.
“That sounds like a bad idea. In Philadelphia, you need to wear Kevlar to garden.”