I have been following Richo on Instagram for some years, because I like his approach to “celebrate medicinal plants” and his knowledge is shared so generously through his books.
He writes from personal experience, with Volume 1 covering the theory and practice of natural gardening, with insights into regionality, for ‘right plant, right place’ and a Materia Medica that has hand drawn black and white illustrations throughout, but there are also humorous naive sketches of mice and people.
Each herb has the author’s own experiences of the plants shared, covering cultivation, harvesting, preparation, traditional uses etc. Richo’s ruminations are a joy, his song to nature is from the heart as plants have been his life for years. The dedication is to all medicinal herb gardeners everywhere. What a joy to dip in and out of a volume that has so much to offer and resonates with many of us.
There are examples of his valuable wisdom, such as Artemisinin in Artemisia annua is heat-liable, so drying temperatures should not exceed 90°F.
This volume covers A-H herbs arranged in plant families, further divided into species.
I particularly like that he advises when moving to new land, “roll out your bedroll, lie back and listen and watch. If you like what your senses tell you, then this bodes well for you and your new garden.” As getting to know your patch, rather than just ripping everything out, is vital when working with nature.
Gates are mentioned too, as with other more reflective thoughts, with lines such as, “Enter here and think no more.” Wise words indeed, as we know our mental health is as important as our physical.
Also Mary Poppins gets a mention, a favourite of mine and someone I often quote too.
I have learned many things from this marvellous book, including how Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) will grow on Shepherd’s purse, Red and White Clovers and some Vetches, I will be looking out for this, as I have only ever seen it on grasses.
There are many stories in this book that are fascinating, including how a tree was healed after being attacked by goats with comfrey. Stories help us retain information, most people that work the land tell stories, long may it continue and the written word saved and shared, looking forward to Volume 2.