Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Reviews

Here are some reviews on the books I have currently checked out of the library:

The Potted Herb, Abbie Zabar

This is an adorable little book of herbs useful especially for people like me who only have a tiny space for gardening.  It focuses mostly on growing herbs in pots (very inspiring), and it was one of the first books I checked out of the library when I first started gardening.  Now that it's been about 2 years with a garden and I have more experience under my belt, I decided to check it out again and give it a re-read.  There are quaint illustrations in the book and she even discusses how to create herb topiaries.  Very good, basic starter book and I should also add that I enjoyed the tidbits of herbal lore and history that is included along with each herb.

New Book of Herbs, Jekka McVicar

Lots of great photos in this book!  I love a book that has good, clear pictures of the plants they are discussing.  McVicar also includes a good amount of herbal lore too.  The book is laid out in a very organized, elegant design which makes it easy to follow.  All the bases are covered on how to grow, care for, harvest and use over 100 different herbs.  She describes and provides some recipes and instructions on how to use herbs in the kitchen (i.e. tisanes, salad dressings, oils and vinegars and cooked dishes) to using herbs around the home for fragrance, first aid and even pet care.  She also provides a section on herbs for beauty and relaxation and includes recipes on how to make an herbal shampoo, for example, and my favorite use for herbs -- relaxation (herbal bath tonics, foot bath, etc.).

Essential Herbal Wisdom - A Complete Book of 50 Remarkable Herbs, Nancy Arrowsmith

If you REALLY want to get into it, check this book out.  Arrowsmith goes into complete detail of the exploration of 50 herbs.  This book is a deep dive into herbal folklore, superstition and history.  Arrowsmith describes the appearance of each herb, its useful parts, as well as how to dry, store and use them.  She also discusses seeds and germination, gardening tips, culinary, household, medicinal use and a section on "miscellaneous wisdom" for each of the herbs.

And last but not least, my favorite book out of the bunch I'm currently reading:

The Soul Garden:  Creating Garden Spaces for Inner Growth and Spiritual Renewal, Dr. Donald Norfolk

In this very inspirational book, Norfolk goes into great depth about the therapeutic values and importance of a garden.  He suggests that a garden is a place for spiritual and even physical well being and healing and that spending time in a garden and with nature is necessary for the human psyche.  He describes the garden as a place to rejuvenate the soul.  In this book, Norfolk references texts from the writings of historians, philosophers and medical researchers to show how everyone can benefit from the restorative powers of nature.  Dr. Norfolk, who is an acclaimed osteopath, observed that his healthiest and happiest patients were those who spent their time in a garden.  I am a firm believer of this theory and so I enjoyed this book very much.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day December 2015

It's been a busy month since the last Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and it is the time of year when I take time off to concentrate on my photography.  This time of year you can usually find me at either Descanso Gardens or The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens.  I am lucky to live just a short drive away from both of these magnificent gardens.  If you are interested in having a look at some of the images I've shot over the past several weeks, you can visit my Flickr Page Here.  

As for the latest goings on in my garden, the roses are blooming as usual and never fail to provide the front of my home with an abundance of color and beauty.  But my latest gardening project is that I have now decided to turn the patio area into an all herb garden.  

One of my favorite sections at the Huntington Botanical Gardens is their herb garden.  I've always been interested in many uses for herbs from medicinal to metaphysical to aromatic to culinary, so it just seemed natural that I should focus on this diverse group of plants valued for their contributions to science, history and even superstition.

Last month I posted many of the herbs I already have growing in my garden, but here are just a few photos of some of the latest I've added to my collection.

Chives - First time growing these.  Not sure why it took me so long!
Dill - Can't wait until these flower.
Apple Mint
Patchouli - Will be making incense with the leaves once this plant grows up a bit.
Mugwort - I got this picture just before I cut the aerial parts back for the winter.  It's already sprouting new growth up from the roots.
Deadheading the roses.  We don't need much to keep warm during the 
Fall/Winter months here in California.