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Lisa Novick Headshot

For Deeply Satisfying Sex...

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Sometimes we ask, "Was that good for you?" simply because we need affirmation. We need to hear that we have given our partner joy and need to know that our pleasure in giving was shared in receiving. But more often than not, that type of question signals a disconnect.

Deeply satisfying sex is all about connecting and finding that connection on many different levels -- the more, the better. More levels yield more connections, and more ways to connect necessarily yield better sex.

The same is true for gardening with native rather than non-native plants.

Natives give your garden more and better sex because native plants make more connections: More sex because 90 percent of all plant-eating insect species (caterpillars, beetles...) can eat only those plants native to their region. More insects yield more sex, from the insects themselves to the flowers they pollinate to the other insects and animals that are able to reproduce because of the food provided by the 90 percent. Better sex because the 90 percent necessarily yield more ecosystem connections than the 10 percent that can eat both native and non-native plants. And more connections yield better sex -- sex that will happen on many different ecosystem levels.

This 90 percent applies the world over -- it's not just a Californian thing. So, anywhere in the world, right from the get-go, native plants increase the sex (both the quantity and the quality) a garden provides. It's simply a matter of numbers.

Gardens are all about sex. What are flowers but beauty with a purpose? What are pollinators but creatures that carry sperm to egg? What is fruit but an enticing source of energy for survival -- sex? And when that fruit is consumed, what is the result but a greater chance of survival for both plant and animal seeds?

For more and better sex, people dye their hair, undergo liposuction, wear uncomfortable clothes, starve themselves, endure breast and penis implants... All these things speak to the fact that many people do not work with their natural genetic inheritance to recognize what's good about it and be attractive through that good. Instead, people work against it and try to be other.

People do the same to their gardens. In Los Angeles (arguably the most plastic city in America), many people do not work with the natural landscape and, instead, try to make their gardens other. Rather than work with California's nitrogen-poor soils by installing native plants that are adapted to that soil, rather than work with the hot, dry summers by planting natives that rest or go dormant or drought-deciduous, rather than work with the plants with which the local insects and birds co-evolved, people amend their soil, install elaborate irrigation systems, use pesticides, provide sugar water with red dye for hummingbirds, and buy bags of bird seed. In Los Angeles, the vast majority of gardens consist of non-native grasses and other plants that require fertilizers and profligate amounts of water, fertilizers whose nitrogen run-off causes algae blooms in Santa Monica Bay and co-opted water that starves distant rivers in California and beyond. Begonias in Los Angeles are like the rictus smile of a botched facelift.

Why not have deeply satisfying sex by accepting who we and our partners are? Why not have deeply satisfying gardens by planting natives that make complex and diverse connections possible?

Just as people must be cognizant of and own their psychological and genetic make-up, people must also be unabashedly honest about their local natural landscape -- its characteristics, context, and constraints -- for a deeply satisfying garden that is not continually on life support and only one step removed from collapse. How well we work with our given landscapes will ultimately determine how much satisfaction we create.

Commit to where you sexually find yourself. Commit to your local natural landscape. Instead of lusting after a fantasy, figure out how to lust after your partner. Instead of trying to nurse a tropical garden through California's inevitable droughts, commit to the fact that there will be rough and difficult times, and figure out how to work with them and, through them, create joy. And with a palette of native plants, the ways to create joy are infinite.

Millions of years of evolution have honed native plants. They embody the best adaptations for surviving and thriving in a particular landscape. All gardens are artificial, but native gardens are closest to what's real because they connect us to what the landscape might have been if roads, housing developments, and parking lots hadn't been imposed upon the land.

And just as you can't fake deeply satisfying sex, you can't fake a garden suited to its surroundings. If it isn't suited, at some point the price of imported water will be too high to maintain it, or the roots of the plants will go round and round in the amended soil, never establishing themselves deep down, or heat and insects to which the plants have evolved no resistance will threaten the garden's survival. At some point, you'll know the garden you've created is untenable because its unfulfilled needs come back to bite. Annoying questions about the larger environment will persist because, deep down, you suspect your garden is just a performance, not an honest way of being. Own your sexual and natural landscape. With native plants, your garden can be a place of such beauty that, while you're in it, age and time melt away and you feel eternal.