Synopses & Reviews
A Curious Garden of Herbs is a richly illustrated collection of herbal fact and lore that illuminates the "why" rather than the "how" of the historical kitchen garden. Rather than offering a how-to of gardening methods, Kay K. Moss and Suzanna S. Simmons trace herbs and their uses back to earlier times and places. A Curious Garden of Herbs is peppered with reflections and observations from manuscripts and published herbals that detail the historical uses and fascinating stories surrounding plants of documented interest in the early American South and mid-Atlantic.
Practicality and necessity were the guiding theses for gardening in eighteen- and early nineteenth-century rural and frontier settlements in the Southeast. There were plants for food, for seasoning, for medicine, for dye, for insect repellency, and for scent. While many of these plants were also decorative, utility dominated the rationale of backcountry gardeners. Unlike the experimental and exotic collections of Thomas Jefferson and other wealthy gentleman botanists, the gardens detailed in these pages are generally of the "middling sort"--of townspeople and farmers, of "housewives," merchants, and artisans. A Curious Garden of Herbs brings these everyday herbs to life with sixty historical illustrations.
In addition to including the well-known varieties such as parsley, lavender, cucumber, and asparagus, this wonderfully illustrated catalog of more than a hundred plants also reveals new ways to enjoy violet, rose, and nasturtium. Moss and Simmons also encourage readers to invite lesser-known plants, such as wild purslane, mullein, and wood sorrel into their gardens and conversations.