Healing Gardens. Ever since humans walked this earth, they fell and cut themselves, or felt so sick they couldn’t get out of their beds. It did not take long for humans to try and find ways to repair those cuts and find something to drink or eat that would make them feel better. Over thousands of centuries we searched for ways to cure our ailments and problems. Nowadays we have doctors and nurses and hospitals with all kinds of equipment and medicines that can bring us back to health. And we are very glad for all those medicines and equipment.
However, we can learn there are natural ways to keep us healthy and plants that can heal us. Deb Soule, the founder of Avena Botanicals, has written The Healing Garden: Herbs for Health and Wellness (Princeton Architectural Press $25.95). This book, with many useful photographs, will guide us to gardening, gathering, and drying plants, and teaching how to prepare teas, tinctures and other remedies.
Soule begins with Chapter I Gathering With Gratitude. As a child she was taught about respect, reciprocity, gratitude, humility and love. She was taught to connect and communicate with plants. She shows us the ways of looking at the creatures and plants that surround us and the practices that teach us about the rhythms of the seasons, the sun and moon.
Soule is a biodynamic gardener. The system of biodynamic gardening was first laid out by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in1924. It puts significant focus on soil health, but it is also used for teaching young children at Waldorf schools. This section of the book includes basic instruction on dealing with plants.
Chapter II is devoted to the different ways herbs can be dried. Chapter III is devoted to the specific kinds of plants that can be dried, and the different drying techniques.
Part IV teaches how to prepare herbal medicines, and focuses on the plants have which healing qualities. First there are familiar herbal teas, then herbal infusions with dried herbs, and with fresh herbs. Some of us may already be familiar with Sun Tea, but Deb Soule offers us Magical Lunar Infusions, and Spirit Infusions.
Then there are Decoctions. These are made with the woody parts of plants, seeds and berries. There are so many ways to look at plants! There are so many ways to work with them for health! All these plants are put to use in tonics and tinctures. The doses for these different tinctures and tonics are also given.
As a former beekeeper myself, I was also happy to see the ways that honey and herbs can be used. I want you to know what I have mentioned is only a part of the ways that herbs can be used for health.
The final section about the healing garden takes us from Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Nettles, Roses, Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) and Teasel (Dipsacys sylvestrus) with explanations of their healing qualities and how they should be used.
For example, although we don’t usually think that nettles (Urtica dioica) have any good qualities for health, but the nettle is one of “the most nourishing herb and food sources on our planet. The leaf is high in minerals and micro-nutrients, especially iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein.” These are important elements, along with others, to keep us healthy, with good information about how to use them.
Turning these herbs and flowers into medicinals is a serious business, but Deb Soule is a good teacher. In this book she brings us her knowledge of medicinal herbs. In addition to writing The Healing Garden, she has written Move Like a Gardener and Healing Herbs for Women.