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




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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.

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