Synopses & Reviews
Behind the pungent aroma of garlic and the cool, palate-cleansing taste of mint in our toothpaste are untold stories of human interactions with the natural world. Celebrating the human heritage of these and other natural phenomena, the new Hidden Natural Histories series offers fascinating insight into the cultivation and use of the bits of nature we take for granted in our daily lives. In Herbs, Kim Hurst concocts a delightful tale of the leafs, seeds, and flowers that for millennia have grown in our gardens, provided savor to our stews, and been used to treat our ailments. Many of herbsandrsquo; uses will surprise: rosemary, renowned for its piney flavor, has also been used to protect homes from thieves, aid memory, preserve youth, cure depression, and attract helpful garden elves. Packed with informative and beautiful illustrationsandmdash;both new and from historical archivesandmdash;Herbs will charm and enlighten anyone interested in our relationship with the natural world and will be a special delight for every chef, gourmand, gardener . . . or purveyor of garden elves.
andldquo;Hidden Natural Histories: Herbs and Hidden Natural Histories: Trees are two wonderful examples of guides that are both accessible and interesting to the layman and expert alike. Both volumes are extremely user-friendly and visually pleasing, with beautifully detailed illustrations of more than 150 different species of trees and herbs. They contain a variety of information, ranging from botanical descriptions to ethnobotanical lore, including such things as the medicinal, culinary, and spiritual uses of the plants. Detailed germination and growing conditions for each plant are also included. As an added bonus, relevant literary or historical quotes are included for many of the plants described. In Herbs, Hurst brings many of the plants we consider commonplace to life. For example, dandelions, a plant considered to be a pest by many, were actually brought to the New World from the Mediterranean. . . . Both volumes are extremely well organized, and both include an introduction, a brief description about how to use the book, glossaries, a catalog of plants, and an index. . . . Informative and eye-opening. They are highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.andrdquo;
Did you know that Bachelor's Buttons worn by women have been known to attract lovers?and#160; Or that wearing Cloth of Gold crocus confers the power to understand the language of birds and animals?and#160; Hidden Natural Histories: Herbs tells the stories of 150 of the most remarkable herbaceous plants used through the ages by humankind for their culinary, medicinal, and other properties. Often, the herbs most important in cooking and medicine are revered for their supernatural powers. Rosemary, for example, has been burned as an incense to cleanse and purify a room;and#160; hung over a door to keep thieves from the house; worn to aid the memory and preserve youth; bound to the right arm to cure depression, and even grown to attract helpful elves to the garden. For each of the 150 herbs in this book, there are intriguing accounts of unexpected uses (garlic was used to rid gardens of moles; eyebright was used to increase psychic powers) and historic anecdotes (fennel seeds were eaten in the Middle Ages to allay hunger). Hidden Natural Histories: Herbs weeds through the long history of our use of herbs, and provides fascinating natural history and insight on every page.
About the Author
Kim Hurst is the author of Herbs and the Kitchen Garden.