Plants With Benefits


Thoughtful gardening leads… knowledge, an asset that is intertwined with gardening’s roots.  ~Robin Lane Fox



Two years ago Helen Yoest published her wonderful book, Gardening With Confidence.  I love that book and still refer to it today.  Helen has always been a great role model and advocate for beginning gardeners, lending her support.  And her advice is always sound.DSCN0757

When I heard Helen had released another book, I was most anxious to read it.  It was not until I saw the title that I was even more intrigued.  Not so much about the subject, but more that Helen was writing about the subject matter…namely plants and sex (I have to whisper this or the sisters from Catholic school will haunt me).  This gentile Southern woman was the last person I would have thought would be writing about aphrodisiacs.  Boy did I have a narrow view of this lady….not that there’s anything wrong with writing about sex.

What was even better was how she came to write this book.  As Helen tells it, she originally wanted to write a book about creating gardens for the five senses.  By the way I would love to read that book too Helen, so tell your publisher that!  It was her publisher who persuaded her to write about this particular subject.  And I am certainly glad he did as Helen has researched a most fascinating subject for a garden book.




Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden


plants with benefits 

Author:  Helen Yoest

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher:   St. Lynn’s Press (January 15, 2014)

Amazon Price:  $13.74 (Hardcover)





In A Few Words


Plants With Benefits is an exploration into the science, history and folklore of 50 plants believed to be aphrodisiacs.  Or is it all just a myth.  First, Helen explains what an aphrodisiac is, and how plants made her list as one:

  • Is it psychologically suggestiveDSCN2903
  • Does the plant affect the brain chemistry contributing to pleasurable sensations
  • Does the plant’s hormones mimic human hormones
  • Does the plant promote health and vigor

Helen goes on to note that the FDA may not endorse the aphrodisiac claims of these plants but there is the weight of tradition and some science that certainly is “telling a different story”.

As Helen explores each plant, she talks about its history as an aphrodisiac, why it works and even includes growing tips and recipes.  There were many plants and foods included here that I had no idea were considered an aphrodisiac.  Who knew?




What I Liked

What is there not to like about this book.  Besides being fascinating reading, Helen makes it fun to read as well.  And then DSCN9907there is the beautiful photography throughout.  Not to mention some fun recipes many contributed by Carolyn Binder of Cowlick Cottage Farm

Many of the surprise plants in the book for me were almonds, anise, asparagus, avocados….all right that was just the As.  So I had no clue all these foods could be used for sexual arousal.  One great story that Helen tells is about the avocado.  It was long thought to be a “fertility fruit” for men as far back as 10,000 years ago by the ancient Mayans because of its resemblance to the male sex organs (aka testicles).  Even the Aztecs kept their virgin daughters inside during the harvest of this fruit.  And while there was no scientific proof any of this was true back then, it seems these ancient cultures knew something as science has shown in recent studies.  

On the flip side nutmeg is said to be Viagra for women, and was used as such in ancient cultures.  But too much can be dangerous as it can be a hallucinogenic in larger doses.  So as Helen says a little goes a long way.  No wonder I have always loved this spice, even its scent.  Oh did I say that out loud.




Not So Much

There really is nothing I didn’t like about this book.  Perhaps a recipe book Helen would be a great follow-up for those of us who need or perhaps want a bit more of these plants in our daily diet.




Final Thoughts

With over 50 foods and plants to explore, I know my winter may not be so cold after all…I said that out loud too didn’t DSCN2867I…oops!  I think I had as much fun reviewing this book as Helen had writing it.  It seems plants can create arousal and have a certain sex appeal after all.  I know I will not be looking at many of the plants in my garden the same way after reading this delicious book.  

And all the plants pictured here grow in my garden, and are considered an aphrodisiac in some way.  Maybe I need an X-rated warning on my garden…well at least an MA rating, for mature audiences.

You can read more of Helen’s garden advice at her blog, Gardening With Confidence




If you enjoy reading these blog posts, why not share them with others you know.  I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read.  I hope to more overtly spread some blog love through both my blogs in the future.  So help this blogger and others you know by sharing blogs with readers (if you have a blog) or with friends.  Bloggers appreciate the love.  I know I do.



In A Vase On Monday 

So it was time for another walk in the wintry garden, to look for materials that would fill a vase as I join Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday.  I am also linking in with Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles, and Judith’s meme, Mosaic Monday.        

With our cold, snowy weather now in December, I was not relishing going out to hunt for plants to put in a vase.  The warm weather we soaked up during our visit to in sunny Arizona has me spoiled now.  So I was pleased and surprised that I ran across a foliage vase I put together in late October that was hiding in a corner.  As I looked at it, I saw it had dried beautifully in the vase, and with a bit of spiffing up perhaps it would be perfect to use again.


dried cattail vase

Do you remember this vase?  Well now it is all dried (see the insert).  




dried cattail vase2

The baptisia and peony foliage looks wonderful as they changed color a bit and curled.  The Obedient plant seedheads look exactly the same as do the cattails.  And the rosehips are beautifully wrinkled.  So all I had to do was take out one popping cattail, and add some baptisia seedpods and miscanthus grass plumes.  Now it is a perfect late fall vase that celebrates my December garden.  

I have to handle it carefully as the dried arrangement is very delicate and breaks apart easily.  I wasn’t sure how much I would still like this vase once I freshened it up a bit, but I really do.




I hope you will join me in my Seasonal Celebrations meme where we celebrate the new season coming soon to your part of the world.  


Just write a post between now and December 21st.   Leave a link with your comment on the kick-off post of Seasonal Celebrations-Winter Wonders. I will include your link in my summary post on December 22nd.  


I am collaborating with Beth@Plant Postings and her Lessons Learned meme at this same time.  What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South.  Write a separate post or combine your lessons with your celebrations in one post.



Next up on the blog:  

Thursday, on my new blog, Living From Happiness, I will have my Garden Lessons Learned post.  And Monday is time for another annual flower profile here at Gardens Eye View.  

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.




68 Replies to “Plants With Benefits”

  1. Sounds a fun book even though I wouldn’t give much credence to many myths. The vase is perfect for the season and don’t worry we’ll all be using dried flowers soon. , and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  2. Hi Donna,
    What a fun review of the book you have written! As for your vase, oh my goodness I love the one from earlier in the fall and I always love dried flowers! It came out beautiful. Arizona… now that sounds nice! I hope you had a good trip!

  3. Love your dried flowers Donna and the vase your used too, its a lovely shape. Great book review too, it certainly sounds like an interesting one to keep winter blues away!

    1. Yes this book can warm with its subject matter Julie….the vase I used is a very large one that I love to fill. I can’t wait until spring to see it teeming with flowers…for now I will let it rest as my arrangements will be small using whatever I can find buried beneath the snow.

  4. I love your book review Donna. Now that sounds like an interesting book for the long winter evenings. And recipes too? How intriguing.
    I like your recycled dried arrangement. Whenever I have used bulrushes they always disintegrate into fluffy seedheads.

  5. Oh my gosh Donna, this was so much fun and so funny. And by the way, you know that Sister Mary Veronica is going to be ever so disappointed in your behavior ;>)

    I loved this review and it was almost enough to make this old lady want to start gardening again (I wonder how many of those plants I could fit in a flower box.)

    1. I suspect the Sisters would be very disappointed Sallie. I think a few of these plants could easily grow in your window box!

  6. That’s an intriguing book of Helen Yoest’s! And well done for recycling October’s arrangement – as you say it looks perfect for December. I have moved my dry vase from a few weeks ago to another room as I saw no reason to dispose of it, so that may well be resurrected in due course too! Thanks for continuing posting vases through these leaner months πŸ™‚

    1. I am looking forward to finding a few surprises for the vase under the snow now Cathy…I have so many ideas! Glad you enjoyed the post….

  7. Such a fun review Donna. Sex in the garden to follow one inside, nutmeg sales may soar!
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

  8. What a great idea to recycle the contents of an earlier vase as they dry out – it looks perfect for the season and will last until the sprig flowers start. Your book review made me chuckle – I will certainly look at my plants with a different eye!

  9. Oh Donna, you made me giggle with your book review… It is now on my wishlist for Christmas! πŸ˜‰
    Your vase looks great – good idea to use dried flowers, and very effective. πŸ™‚

  10. I enjoyed your review. Beautiful shots. That rose made my mouth water (I realize foods supposed to do that but flowers do it for me too).

  11. Hi Donna, so enjoyed your review of that book but, as I haven’t read Helen’s previous book, I’ll read it first and then move on to stronger stuff πŸ™‚ How creative of you to recycle the dried arrangement and it looks as good as it did the first time round. Elizabeth xx

  12. The dried arrangement looks grand Donna. I just love the cattails. My baptisia never holds up very well. Nice book review. I visited Helen’s lovely garden last year during The Garden Conservancy Open Days.

  13. Oh, the arrangement still looks great! That sounds like a great book, too. I know what you mean about the winter being a little easier to take when you have a good book to read. πŸ™‚

  14. Donna, what a great review on the book. I had some laughs and I remember spending a lot of my childhood with the Catholic nuns.. I had no idea about the avocado and nutmeg.. Thanks for sharing, have a happy day!

  15. I had the good fortune to meet Helen two years ago at the Asheville Fling–what a delightful person she is! I’ve been following her recipes and info on these “plants with benefits” on Pinterest, but I still haven’t read her book. Maybe I should buy it for my husband–he might finally get interested in helping me in the garden:)

  16. Now there’s food for thought Donna. I think that I might be a lost cause as I dislike both asparagus and avocados although I’m partial to almonds. Will have to check out whether the book is available on this side of the pond. Your October vase has certainly got a new lease of life.

  17. Well now I have a whole new view into your mind. Just kidding, your review was hysterical. The vase of plants you created could grace any dinner party, gorgeous.

  18. I agree with many of your commenters, your review was very funny and insightful. Personally I know we have lost so much in the natural world, that we don’t even realize anymore how much is to be gained in our emotional and sexual health from plants. Nutmeg! Who knew? But NOW we do, and I think I’ll add it to my cinnamon toast in the mornings. Wonderful book review! Thank you.

    1. Oh thank you Susie…and I agree we have lost so much with plants and health. I think that is why I love to do the profiles I do so we don’t lose their stories. Enjoy that nutmeg!!

  19. Just last week I sprinkled some nutmeg on my parsnips and I do remember having a little more spark that evening. Over the winter I like to stretch the boundaries of garden book content. Thanks for the review.

  20. Sounds like an interesting and entertaining book. This isn’t really a question of aphrodisiacs, but I always wondered how Great Blue Lobelia got the botanical name Lobelia syphilitica. She doesn’t cover that, does she?

    1. No Jason she doesn’t get into that in her book, but I do know that “Siphilitica” is derived from a folk belief that this plant could treat syphilis.

  21. I must have had a narrow view of Helen too! You have a funny review of her book with this added bit of personal impression.

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