“Literacy is critical in understanding your sacred space.” D. MacPherson
Winter is a great time to read. Those marked articles, digital or hard copy books sitting near your sofa. Those lists followed by “I’ll get to them this winter”. I’ve been asked what books I use for my research and writings. My library is close to 300 books ranging from the technical view of tree growth, soil management to building senior gardens to the mystical aspect of elementals, fairies, and plants themselves. Over the next few blogs, I will share some of them.
The first group is quite fun. Plants are the foundation in making spirits and today some of the oldies are coming back. Amy Stewart in The Drunken Botanist shares the recipe for a Manhattan, made with rye. A grass first used in American whiskey and distilled by George Washington.
Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan gives us plant spirit and magic. One being Douglas Fir Tipsy. A concoction that last for 6 months.
Agatha Christie is well known for her delicious mysteries and the excitement in working the intrigue to the end. Her plant and chemical knowledge were fantastic. A is for Arsenic, The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup is an excellent compilation of those plants and chemicals used in the mysteries. It will answer the question of scent. Is that cyanide or arsenic?
And for Shakespeare fans. Botanical Shakespeare took 20 years to complete, which gives me hope for my recent book that is on year four. Beautifully illustrated with their corresponding reference to the Bard’s plays. This book is a feast for the eyes. Wonderfully noted is that until Linnaeus created the first botanical taxonomy, plants had many names based on area and language. A challenge to any researcher. So, if you pursue taxonomy always ask what language and where did the name of this plant begin. It’s a fantasying study in travel, culture and life.
In one of my first graduate classes, my professor always said read the Foreword, Acknowledgements, or the Introduction. I encourage you to do the same. These sections are really the foundation of the content. The authors of this book really bring in the botanical knowledge of Shakespeare’s time. Did you know that under Elizabeth I, a horticultural bloom occurred? Men and women wrote extensively on their observations, experiences, and designs. Literacy was common and strongly encouraged.
Put your feet up, make a concoction and enjoy the wealth of knowledge these books present.