Subjects like this fascinate me...working with nature to find cures and remedies.
The Gardener's Companion to Medicinal Plants - An A - Z of Healing Plants and Home Remedies, is a beautifully illustrated book giving an overview of plants used in traditional medicine.
The book has been written by Jason Irving, who is a writer, forager and qualified herbalist, Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes, a registered pharmacist and Chartered Chemist and Professor Monique S.J.Simmonds who is the Deputy Director of Science at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
Apparently of the 300,000 to 400,000 species of plants worldwide, 35,500 have a medicinal use. Cramming that many in such a book would be impossible (I'm not sure my bookshelf would be strong enough to hold what would need to be an enormous volume) so this book concentrates on 277 plants that have a history of medicinal uses in a wide range of medical conditions.
For each plant there is the Latin and more common name, an illustration and a short description. There's also information on which parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes and new research that is being looked in to.
Like I said...fascinating stuff.
What I love about this book are the recipes, 24 in all, that need basic cooking skills to make teas, tinctures, oils and creams. Yes I know you need the plants too but I'm sure you'll soon realise you have 1, if not more of these plants in your garden, for example there is a recipe to make a Lavender Eye Pillow....who doesn't have a lavender in their garden or know someone else who does?
The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow in words and picture form.
The image above shows how to make Chickweed Cream, used to soothe inflamed, itchy skin.
Now call me weird...but in order for me to buy a book I have to like the feel of it first, quality of the paper...stroke-a-bility if you will. The subject matter, content, layout and style follow...illustrations are an added bonus.
This book has all of those in abundance.
It's a beautifully textured hardback, that has an 'oldness' about it, like it belonged to a elderly, wise and much loved gardener.
The illustrations are lifelike & detailed and the writing clear, engaging and enlightening.
As an alternative gift idea for a plant enthusiast, this would make a great present. It's one of those 'dip into' books, that you'll go back to, time and time again.
What will be even more interesting is seeing the potential in some, if not all of these plants, coming to fruition.
The Gardener's Companion to Medicinal Plants is published by Frances Lincoln and is priced at £14.99.