Now The Garden Monkey has also persuaded her to donate a signed copy of her latest book, 'Jekka's Complete Herb Book', for my open garden fundraiser, so her status is now national treasure squared in my view. It's a gorgeous book and Jekka uses the term 'herb' in its widest sense, covering medicinal, culinary and other uses. So plants like Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Betony (Stachys officinalis) have equal billing alongside the more familiar Mint and Thyme.
The bulk of the book is the A-Z of herbs (by botanic name, not common) and covers over 150 plants. You'll find plenty of history and folk-lore alongside the expected details on cultivation, harvesting and uses. There's recipes too - I've sneakily written down the one for lavender biscuits as I'm intrigued by it and also the instructions for pickling Nasturtium seeds as my plot is overrun with them this year. After the A-Z, there's a shorter, more general section covering propagation, planning a herb garden (including several designs), container growing, pests & diseases, harvesting, using herbs as natural dyes plus instructions for making herb oils, vinegars and preserves.
The text is clearly laid out whilst packing a lot of information into each page. The photographs are beautiful too. I think it's a perfect gift for a complete beginner or an expert and I think you'll be looking at a number of the plants in your garden with fresh eyes, OR finding somewhere to squeeze in 'just a few more herbs that'll come in handy' into your garden. As it's a book I'm going to find extremely hard to part with, I've decided you've got to make it worth my while. Therefore, it'll go to the person giving the highest donation in my fundraiser starting on Friday. In the event of a tie, I'll draw the name out of a hat.
And if any of you are in the Alveston area on the weekend of 29-31 August, I'd recommend popping in to Jekka's Herb Farm as it's the last open weekend for this year - if not, she does do mail order too. See you there!