Most modern herbals have a sterile feel to them, an encyclopedia of basic information compiled through years of research or the gathering of folklore. The Wild & Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy breaks out of that sterile feel. This is an herbal that you can browse from beginning to end, rather than a look up of your current interest. The contents include her favorite suggestions and is not simply a list of some herbs, the chapters are laid out in an A to Z format, resembling a collection of articles more than an herbal encyclopedia. Seeing as how Shababy used to publish a small magazine called Wild & Weedy – A Journal of Herbology, this editorial feel makes perfect sense. This book focuses on Shababy’s personal experience and includes family recipes that have actually been used and enjoyed. In her life, she has explored wild foods, herbal medicines, preventive health care, whole foods, seasonal celebrations, poetry, and keeping the “old ways” alive. This woman is right up my alley.
The basics such as common herbal preparations (from simples, infusions, and decoctions to herbal wines, plasters, salves, syrups, and more), the basics of harvesting and when to gather what part of the herb, storing, and serving your herbs in food or preserves. Shababy also includes a great deal of her recommendations on other books, with brief personal commentary on each.
I find this book more useful as a pleasant reader than a valued and treasured timeless reference. This book is going to be far more likely to be picked up and read cover to cover multiple times than stored on my shelf until I have a need of it. The information is presented in a way that makes it mostly easy to remember and doesn’t leave you feeling like you need to jot down some notes before you fail the class. I enjoyed this book as my night-time reading many times, and it fills that desire to entertain an interest rather than a desire to buckle down and learn. If you like to read magazines on your favorite subjects and herbalism interests you, this book will well fill that need to browse in a nice and relaxed manner.