Half a Hundred Herbs – a Booklist

This is today, so you can imagine there is not much going on in the garden. We lost a couple of fence-panels in the wind – and there is another being propped up from next door. I took this photo in an interval of bright sun, but snow is falling again, and all the gardening is happening in my head. snowy gardenOver the last year, after a strange and disconcerting start to my reading – in which I discovered that almost everything we tend to assume about the history of herb use is pretty much wrong – I finally got to grips with some very good books on the subject. I’ve put together a list on a pdf which you can find here: Booklist.

I’ve been a bit surprised by poetry too. Firstly, there isn’t as much as you might think. There are, of course, some lyrics about primroses and daisies and so on, some doggerel rhymes and some cultural references to holly, ivy or rosemary, but poems about herbs themselves, rather than floral decorations, have been harder to come by. There are a few, though, and I hope that through the year I’ll do a list.

There are a few herbal references in contemporary poetry, and these are increasing, partly as they figure more in our kitchens, and the scents are so evocative that they can trigger memories or moments of discovery, but mostly as weeds and wild flowers – elderberry, bramble and hawthorn, meadowsweet and yarrow. It will be interesting to follow this up, and find out what poets are doing with this new kind of attention.

 

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