Danielle over at The Teacup Chronicles is our hostess for February’s blog party with the delightful topic of Gems from the Herbal Library. She’ll be posting the links for all the entries tomorrow so do wander on over there to see what books others have been inspired by this month.
Sometimes, reading reams of research material and the like can begin to sap the joy from our herbal learning and it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of gazing on a wild plant or a herb in our gardens. It’s not always possible to get outside and sit amongst our green friends however, especially at this time of year, which is why I decided to share with you some of my favourite illustrated herbals. I’ve always been a visual person and I can never get a real sense of a new or exotic herb until I have seen it with my own eyes, no matter how much knowledge I may have gleaned on it’s usage.
So without further ado here are some of my favourite herbal picture books, I hope you also get some pleasure from gazing on their beauty.
The Illustrated Book of Herbs, edited by Sarah Bunney, is full of delightful drawings alongside small entries on the botanical descriptions and traditional uses of each plant.
The Illustrated Herbal by Philippa Beck is a similar, though smaller, volume covering fewer plants but including some interesting recipes for medicinal and cosmetic use. I particularly love this illustration of plantain.
A wild flower guide rather than a herb book, The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe, by Marjorie Blamey and Christopher Grey-Wilson is still most definitely a gem of my herbal library, one of those things that you find in a second hand book shop and treasure ever more. Each page is filled with illustrations and I’ve found it a useful reference guide as well as a thing of great beauty.
A Country Herbal by Leslie Gordon, contains some great images like these Medieval depictions of mandrake and marjoram and some interesting tidbits on traditional plant uses, though it’s fairly light on useful medicinal information.
Slightly more modern, these three also make delightful additions to my picture-book collection.
Herbal by Deni Brown, was a Christmas present this year and I love the mix of beautiful photos and botanical illustrations in this lovely purple cloth bound book. There’s not much in it that would be new for the experienced herbalist but it’s still a delight to own, just look at this wonderful illustration of dandelion.
I love all the bright and vibrant photos in Hedgerow Medicine by Matthew and Julie Bruton Seal and I’ve picked up some great tips from it’s simple and easy to read style and lovely recipes. This is a perfect book for beginners interested in picking and making their own remedies from the wild but it’s still enjoyable for more experienced herbalists too.
Last but not least is The Complete Floral Healer by Anne McIntyre which is full of the botany, folklore and medicinal properties of a whole host of well known flowers. It’s also bright and beautiful with photos or illustrations for each entry. Check out this lovely skullcap drawing.
I hope you enjoyed looking at this little selection of my favourite illustrated herbals and do let me know if you can recommend any others!