The Aromatherapy Garden (Kathi Keville)

I enjoyed this book more than the last one I read about aromatherapy. It was published much more recently (2016 vs 1995) so the information and studies referenced are more up-to-date. And the author is clearer about what information is anecdotal and what came from a research-based scientific study. Not that personal experience isn’t valid, but it’s important to understand and clarify the difference, especially when it comes to putting foreign substances into your body.

Title – The Aromatherapy Garden: Growing fragrant plants for happiness and well-being

Author – Kathi Keville

Page count – 257

Rating – Borrow to see if it interests you. I’ll probably buy a copy at some point because I enjoy structuring my garden designs around fragrant plants and want to reference some of her ideas.

The first half of this book talks about the history of scent in the garden – how fragrant plants affect people and attract pollinators, and how they’ve been featured in gardens around the world through time. It goes on to describe how to design and select plants for your garden when you want to feature fragrance; environmental/cultural requirements for maintaining a fragrance garden; and what to do with your fragrant plants once they’re ready for harvest.

The second half is a reference guide to 83 different aromatherapeutic plants: their botanical name, family, hardiness zone, and historical use.

This book is for people interested in gardening, aromatherapy, or horticulture in general – either professionally or as a hobby. The second half isn’t something that really lends itself for reading straight through; it’s more of a reference guide that you explore sporadically. (I would like to point out that I did read it straight through for the purposes of this project. You’re welcome.)

And while the vast majority of the fragrance descriptions are helpful (Example: for Sweet Woodruff/Galium odoratum – “You could say that the leaves make you feel as if you are eating vanilla ice cream while sitting on a freshly mown lawn, with the cut grass drying in the hot sun.”), every now and then she gives us a doozy of a line that’s, like, Fifty Shades bad (Example: for Rockrose/Cistus ladanifer – “It takes me to an undefined place that temporarily stops time.”).

The thing I liked most about this book is that it doesn’t focus on essential oils (yep, you read that right). Good quality essential oils are expensive and concentrated. When it comes to using them on your body, I personally believe they should be used in diluted form with few exceptions and should be used sparingly if whole-plant options are available. One example for me is menstrual cramps. If I’m at home, instead of using essential oils directly on my skin/abdomen, I use a heating pad and drink tea made from chamomile and citrus plants. That being said, different things work for different people so listen to your body 🙂


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