In rural Auburn, California, Shatoiya and Richard de la Tour have created an elaborate herb garden full of secret pathways and hidden rooms. Open to the public during the day, the garden has become their home, their religion, and their livelihood. "On our two and a half acres we now have ten theme gardens, three ponds, a nursery, two classrooms, a cabin for overnight students, an herb-drying shed, a chicken coop, a llama pen, and a thriving herb shop."
In The Herbalist's Garden, the de la Tours survey nine other herb gardens along with their own, covering regions from British Columbia to Connecticut. Most of the gardeners profiled here are hippies of the first order: they build peace signs into their garden design and would rather die than use a pesticide. Perhaps the most remarkable character profiled is John Forti, owner of Plimoth Plantation, a garden with a sign at the entrance that declares, "Welcome to the 17th Century." At Plimoth Plantation, staffers dress like pilgrims, wearing wide-brimmed hats and long, hot dresses.
Such eccentrics make The Herbalist's Garden an entertaining read, yet it's also informative, with wide-ranging advice on the medicinal and mystical uses of herbs. Throughout, inspirational tidbits such as, "In the core of our being, we yearn to be connected to something real" indicate that the de la Tours clearly have a life philosophy they hope to get across. Somewhere between a coffee-table book, a manifesto of spiritual inspiration, and a practical guide to plant use, The Herbalist's Garden transports the reader in many ways--and the photos are to die for. --Emily White
From Library Journal
Gardens take many forms and serve many purposes. For some, the harvest is paramount, while for others the entire journey is meaningful. This title takes readers on a journey through ten beautiful herb gardens (five in California, four in other states, and one in Canada). The gardens include the authors' Dry Creek Herb Farm, well-known author Dr. James Duke's Farmacy Garden, and the historically accurate Plimoth Plantation. Each section covers the garden's history and the owner's philosophy, including two or three of their favorite herbs with instructions for growing and using them. The herbs range from the common, like basil, to the unusual, such as elecampane, and can generally be grown in a wide variety of USDA zones. The beautiful photographs help set this title's peaceful tone. Somewhat spiritual but never preachy, this book will appeal to most gardeners and should be in all public libraries. Jonathan Hershey, Akron-Summit Cty. P.L., Akron
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.