A Guide to Creating a Garden of Erotic Delights
The art of creating a garden awakens many of our deepest human desires. Choices we make around layout design, planting selection and material varieties help us to construct a private space that fosters shelter, nourishment, mystery, beauty. But what about sexual desire? In many ways, our relationship with sex is a primary driver in the way we feel, think and connect with ourselves and others. Yet in the garden, a place we can be completely and uniquely ourselves, erotic pleasure is not always a design element we consider. As we progress further into an age of technological disconnect, economic pressures and time constraints, it’s vital we find ways to recognise our inner desires, and cultivate these wholesomely within our lives. What better place to begin than by creating a garden of erotic delights?
The decline of sex and happiness, and Esther Perel’s secret garden.
We’re in the midst of a sex recession, or so says an article featured on The Atlantic, citing economic pressures, surging rates of stress and anxiety, technology and body confidence as some of the negative factors contributing to the marked decline in sexual activity amongst 18-34 year-olds living in America today. Interestingly, this same demographic is also experiencing record-high rates of unhappiness, a statistic that experts speculate is linked to the decline in social-ties: “Human beings find meaning, direction, and purpose in and through our social relationships with others. We’re happiest when our ties with others are deep and strong… It’s also linked, specifically, to the frequency with which we have sex. In the antiseptic language of two economists who study happiness: sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations.”
This isn’t to suggest that sex with others is the key to unlocking unhappiness – a feeling that spans far beyond the geographic and age limits of those surveyed in the study. On the contrary, I’d argue that an understanding and connection with one’s inner erotic self is equally as, if not more, important to a person’s overall happiness. In her podcast series, Where Should We Begin, Psychotherapist and relationship and sexuality expert, Ester Perel, states that “everyone needs a secret garden” – a metaphysical space of intimacy, separate from the relationship one shares with another, that acknowledges without judgement, the individual’s personal fantasies, yearnings and erotic desires. This relationship with the self, she continues, is essential to a person’s own development, and will lead to a more enriched and empowered togetherness with another.
How do we find different ways to cultivate sex in our everyday lives?
It’s in our own gardens where we can tangibly explore Perel’s idea of the metaphysical. Regardless of whether we have access to a terrace, a courtyard, a backyard or a sprawling estate, the origin of any garden is wilderness. It is here, where communities of animals and the colourful sex lives of flowers once grew untamed, that the fires and fantasies of our inner Eros can be played out.
It isn’t difficult to create a space that emphasises your sensuality. In fact, it need not be obvious to anyone but you which elements of your garden are sexually stimulating – the secrecy and mystery can even make the experiencing more exhilarating! The key is to design a sensory space that can be enjoyed intimately by you and another, or just you and you alone. Here’s how to do it.
Set the Mood
Creating an atmosphere of mystery, unpredictability and intrigue is essential to inspiring feelings of lust within a garden – after all, what good romance novel ever played out in plain sight?
Design your space to embody wildness with unclipped, flowering shrubs, twisting walkways, hidden nooks, private corners and viewing areas.
Get naked. There’s a reason why people love being unclothed amongst nature; connecting with the earth and the openness of the natural world while nude is a freeing, liberating and (in regard to sex) erotic feeling. If you’re feeling down and disconnected, spending just 10-15 minutes basking naked on the lawn is a great way to improve your mood.
Don’t be afraid to spend time in your garden alone. Don’t be afraid to invite trusted others in either.
Avoid – judgement, technology.
The Touch of Desire
The sensation of touching something enjoyable releases oxytocin within the body, helping us to feel bonded and potentially increasing our sex-drive.
The planting design of your sexy garden might include a range of soft, furry and textured plants that bring delight when your skin makes contact. Succulents like panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa), silver dollar (Crassula arborescens) and blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae); plants and shrubs like lambs ear (Stachys byzantina), maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) and Dichondra argentea; grasses like blue fescue (Festuca glauca) and common tussock (Poa labillardierei); and trees like paperbarks (Melaleuca quinquenervia) birches and bottle trees (Brachychiton rupestris) are some nice options to rub against.
Adding an array of plants and trees that produce erotic shaped fruits ready to be plucked and fondled can also increase the erotic atmosphere. Eggplants, bananas, cucumbers, zucchinis, peaches and figs are good options.
Ensure there are soft and comfortable surfaces to sit or stretch out on and space to lie down.
Avoid – spiky plants, irritable plants, itchy plants (check all potential plants for allergies).
The Taste of Lust
Forget oysters – devouring natural aphrodisiacs from your own garden is a sure-fire way to ramp up the heat. Anything oozy or juicy goes here – berries, mangoes, watermelons, stone fruit and citrus. Other planting options include avocados, asparagus, pomegranates and nut trees. There’s also a list of alternative natural aphrodisiac options here.
The Sight of Stimulation
Always design with beauty in mind. Emerson once wrote, “We are made immortal by the contemplation of beauty.” Take his advice and endeavour to create a garden so painfully beautiful that the act of admiring it alone brings you to your knees with overwhelming awe, pleasure and delight.
Layers are important – depending on your space, add as much colour, texture and shape that you can. The more visual diversity, the more mental stimulation.
Plant flowers everywhere. Not only for beauty, but to admire the natural sex fest that is the pollination of flowering perennials and shrubs by birds, bees and insect life.
Include sculptures and art in the garden that speak to your inner desires. These need not be overt – a Georgia O’Keefe painting can be just as erotically affecting as a nude figure or a beautifully textured abstract organic form. Take poetry and books into the garden to read, or paper to write or draw on.
Avoid – excessive structure and control (keep those hedges unclipped!)
The Scent of Sex
Our sense of smell plays one of the most important roles in flaming our sexual urges.
Plant an assortment of deliciously fragrant flowers, shrubs and trees that produce throughout the year to ensure there’s always something intoxicating to inhale. There’s a huge array of species that produce delectable scents during different seasons – freesias, peonies, roses, osmanthus, viburnums and philadelphus are just a few. Ensure to add winter flowering shrubs like wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), daphne and mahonias in cool climate or deciduous gardens.
Earthier scented herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and spearmint can be picked and crushed with oil to create a fragrant lubricant to rub over the body.
Avoid – foul or overpowering smells, allergy inducing shrubs e.g. wattle, jasmine.
The Sound of Sensuality
Designing a sensual garden is about creating a gentle haven of peace.
Add a source of running water to enhance the atmosphere of calm and quiet.
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of animal life – birds singing, bees humming.
Sit beneath the trees to listen to the sounds of the wind amongst their leaves.
Speak in whispers when walking in the garden.
Play classical music. Or any music that helps you to feel happy and content.
Be brave and be selfish. Embracing your inner sexual desires can be daunting. But the benefits of cultivating a private, nurturing space that acknowledges and nourishes your erotic needs can be a way of moving towards living a more wholesome, satisfied and happy life. Next time you’re pondering what to do next in your garden, what design elements to include and spaces to create, consider adding erotic delight (even if only in your mind) to your list.