Grow your own Herbs - Book Reviews
The RHS calls its large tome on the subject an ‘encyclopedia' - and so it is too! Full title ‘The Royal Horticulture Society Encyclopedia of Herbs and their Uses', it is vital for everybody with an interest in the subject.
Covering over a thousand herbs, it is fully illustrated with excellent photographs that identify every species included in the book. The catalogue section includes an introductory description of each genus with a botanical description of every species or cultivar - plus a list of common names at the foot of each page.
The section devoted to the herb dictionary contains comprehensive information about the uses of herbal plants, the parts of the plant used and brief notes about growing and harvesting. Legal restrictions are covered although, because of the complexity of this subject, not in finite detail. The section on designing herb gardens is delightful - and the list of herbal books dating back to circa 300BC (Western) - 1,000BC (Chinese) - is fascinating.
This is a big book - over 400 pages - that informs, educates - and entertains! Check out the price - it may well be available on offer in some bookshops and other retailers.
‘Complete Herbal' is a much smaller book that represents excellent value at just £9.99. David Hoffman, the author, trained with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists after which he ran a successful practice in Wales and was subsequently appointed Director of the California School of Herbal Studies, USA.
The illustrations don't compare with those in the RHS book - and the print size is obviously intended for those with keen sight - nevertheless, a useful little book.
Another smaller book that comes recommended by a Hadlow lecturer - ‘Wild Drugs: a Forager's Guide to Healing Plants' by Zoe Hawes published by Gaia Books. (ISBN 9781856753104 )Gathering food from the hedgerows is making a huge comeback. In a way, this book advocates doing what our forebears did many centuries ago. (Of course, it goes without saying, collecting food - or remedies - demands due care and attention!)
Readable, lucid, interesting, this book deals with treatments for over a hundred common ailments and covers fifty different wild herbs with habitats ranging from woodland, riverside, grassland, hedgerow - and garden!
Trees are an important part of our landscape. We admire them for their beauty and they have the ability to soothe and relax us. They provide shade, they reduce pollution (an increasingly important benefit), provide wind barriers, block noise - and so much more.
The following statistic may not stand up to detailed scientific analysis - there are too many variables - but it is a good indication of the essential contribution trees make! ‘One large tree can supply a day's supply of oxygen for four people. A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year - for an acre of trees, that equals to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide. Each gallon of petrol burned produces almost 20 pounds of CO2. For every 10,000 miles, it takes 7 trees to remove the amount of CO2 produced if the car achieves 40 miles per gallon (mpg); it will take 10 trees at 30 mpg; 15 trees at 20 mpg; 20 trees at 15 mpg; and 25 trees at 12 mpg'
Finally - and still on the subject of trees - Kew Garden's Tony Kirkham, best known for presenting TV programmes such as A Year at Kew and The Trees that Built Britain, provides an insight into ‘250 Years of Trees at Kew' at Hadlow College on 22nd February 2012. The evening begins at 6pm for drinks and book-signing with the talk starting at 7pm in Pym Hall.
Tickets cost £10 (£8 for Broadview Garden Club Members and £4 for students) and are available from Broadview Garden Centre, for more information telephone 01732 853211