Book Review: The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose and A History of Herbalism by Emma Kay

Whilst constantly saying  I need to thin down the amount of books I have, I also keep finding new ones to squeeze onto the shelves.  There is always space for one/two more.....

I was asked if I wanted to review these books, I have not paid for them or been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are my own.

The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose

This is an excellent, well-written book that starts by sharing with us the dream of what a regenerative garden is; a garden with resilience that does not need lots of constant costly attention.  This attention might be in money terms or in impact on the environment.  Stephanie tells us that she wants this book to give us some concepts and easy projects and depending on our resources/time we can follow these projects to be good (a quick fix), better (adding some resiliency) or best (a self sustaining and regenerative garden).  Best might not be attainable, but 'even better' could be.  I like this approach, it is realistic and is not setting us up to fail.

Stephanie takes us through the things we need to know starting at the soil and how we can 'amend' rather than 'improve' it.  Stephanie explains about manure and composts and how to use them.   I found the section on green manure really interesting.  I have never really grown it as I admit I don't really understand it.  Stephanie explains how to grow, for how long (depending on what you want) and how to plant crops into the area after you have completed the process.  None of which is difficult.  Before you know it you are being led into the world of mulches and mulching and you are off considering the different projects before you can blink.   

Now I am going to love any book that promises me '80 practical projects for a self-sustaining garden ecosystem'.  I know that I will not complete all 80, but if I find just one I shall feel a bit more assured I am doing my bit for sustainability.  As soon as I opened this book and started reading I knew I need not limit myself to just one.  A few of things listed I was already doing (big tick for me) yet in even these projects there were things I could learn and improve my own set up.

The books says on the cover it is about 'easy, small scale permaculture ideas for the home garden' and this is very much the case.  The projects vary in size and complexity and I think most people would find something that they can do, probably a few somethings.  It is an 'outside' gardening book, not one for indoor plants, but even with a small amount of outside space there are things you will be able to do.  

I liked this book, it is practical and pragmatic.  Stephanie does not assume we know everything and also does not patronise us.  She explains why and well as how and this makes a good book from my perspective I am happy to recommend.

The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose is published by Cool Springs Press part of the Quarto Group

A History of Herbalism by Emma Kay 

What a fascinating book this is.  It is a well-rounded, extremely readable and based in solid academic research.  Emma covers what herbs are (not as easy to define as you might think), who used/uses them, where used and what used for.  Of course there is a mention of witchcraft early on and Emma gives us the stories of key people (men and women) who have progressed the use and acceptance of herbs specifically through a UK lens.  The use of herbs across the centuries and different cultures are not ignored, but this is a history mainly set in the UK.

 Emma talks us through many herbs and their alleged properties and their definite benefits.  I did not know what Spiderwort was (tradescantia), but if I ever have a horse with a damaged hoof I might feed it spiderwort sandwiches.  Ok, no I wouldn't, but I now know that people thought it would work in 14th century France.  I also now know that Verbena was thought to warn off demons.  I am glad I grow a lot of it in my garden.

Emma tells us how the herbs would be administered: as a juice or cordial or poultice etc.  We move on through the book to how herbs were used in history in cooking with some fascinating recipes to read.  Not all the recipes are from the UK and the updated recipe Emma includes for Transylvanian Sage Dumplings looks like a 'must try' to me.

This book is captivating.  You are soon hooked into reading from one chapter to the next.  I think this is a great gift for that person in your life who likes trying different herbs: either growing or using or both.

A History of Herbalism by Emma Kay is published by Pen and Sword Books

Take care and be kind.

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