Picture it: you’re in your garden, and your knees are in the dirt. You feel a gentle breeze across your back. You feel a gentle breeze everywhere, actually, because this is Austin, the 2021 runner-up for best best naked gardening spots, according to LawnStarter — and, of course, personal experience.
You are, of course, wearing a whole lot of sunscreen, and you’re taking breaks under one of your 50 percent shade cloths. As you’re reclining in the grass, enjoying yourself but trying not to think about bugs, you receive a call from a fellow naked gardener announcing that Austin just rose to No. 1. Every plant around you seems to smile.
May 7 marks World Naked Gardening Day, and this year, Austin takes the top spot on LawnStarter’s list, based on five related rankings across 100 cities: legality of public nudity (1), legality of toplessness (1), Google searches for “World Naked Gardening Day” and “nudist” (40), prevalence of sex offenders in the local population (45), and forecasted daytime temperature on the big day (10).
The top five other Texas cities ranked as follows:
- Dallas, No. 16
- Houston, No. 15
- Fort Worth, No. 37
- El Paso, No. 43
- Corpus Christi, No. 50
Garland, the worst-ranked city in Texas, comes in at No. 85, with Arlington, Virginia, coming in dead last.
Austin unseated Miami, Florida, a city with more nudists according to the study, with its particularly strong protections for public nudity. Austin is one of 15 cities listed on GoTopless.org as a topless “tested” city, meaning that residents can actually take advantage of topless protections without worrying about being caught in loopholes like disturbing the peace or public indecency. The city also has the only nude beach in the entire state, Hippie Hollow.
Miami fell all the way to No. 6 this year, beat out by Tampa, Florida (No. 5), Baton Rouge, Louisiana (No. 4), Atlanta, Georgia (No. 3), and Orlando, Florida, as the runner-up. Orlando has the top local interest ranking, while Austin is quite far down the list. Dallas and Houston, both in the top 20 overall, showed significantly more interest than Austin, and were both in the top 10 rankings of the category.
Austin, however, is ranked the most friendly to nude gardeners, signaling that it doesn’t really matter how much a nude gardener cares about the activity; they’re just the most free to do it. Like many fringe activities, perhaps naked gardening starts with a firm push against the mainstream and slowly settles into just another option to live authentically. Or naturally, if you will.