The Sodshow, Garden Podcast

Book Review: The Holistic Gardener, Fiann Ó Nualáin



NB. This was sent by lovely people at Collins press, free gratis, which was very good of them. Its not often that something I enjoy opening comes in the post, so it made a pleasant change.

This book made its way to me around the madness that was the Bloom bank holiday weekend.  And between that and the weather we’ve been having, reading and reviewing was put on the long finger.

Having read it, i wish I had done so earlier. As us gardeners are spending every daylight hour in the garden at the moment, we do find ourselves with a larger list of ailments than usual. Meaning the book arrived at the perfect time and has already been put to good use……

Listen to The SodShow:

I suppose before I start this I should mention that I’m no book worm and haven’t reviewed one since secondary school. However when a copy of Fiann Ó Nualáin’s Holistic gardener made its way to me I made an exception and got dug in (if you’ll excuse the pun) Fiann’s approach to this book isn’t just to give you the information about garden medicine and leave it at that. He explores all of the other options and alternatives available from the garden for the various aliments gardeners inflict upon themselves. This book isn’t just intended for gardeners but for anyone, be they interested in the great outdoors or just find themselves at the wrong end of a wasps nest all too often.

When we think of first aid from the garden the old reliable cure of Dock leaf juice to cure the stings of the infamous nettle springs to mind straight away. Fiann of course covers this in detail, not only giving advice what potions or plants are useful for various problems, but also goes into why they work, not that the book is overly scientific by any means but sometime it’s interesting to know and nice to boast about how nettle spines release irritating acid that need neutralising, whether by dock, urine (yes that is not a mistake) or by the leaves of a nettle them self (if you’re brave), all of which are alkaline in nature and will relive the irritation caused by the sting. Some publications argue that the dock leaf is simply a placebo, it is quite difficult to find information as to the science behind dock leaves, but none that dismissed it effectiveness either, which suggests there’s truth in both theories.

Fiann’s knowledge of both plants and their medical uses is clear as you read your way through the book.  It surprising how many plants in the garden have medicinal uses and are actually a lot more useful then given credit for. You also come to realise the many different ways a clumsy gardener could injure themselves. Fear not however, for this book has covered every imaginable garden ailment, from bits, stings, cut grazes, burns and everything in between. Fiann’s garden at Bloom this year was a medicinal one in which everything could be used, showing us how simple it is to have a first aid garden. In fact most of us have first aid garden without even realising it.

From early on Fiann states that Garden aid is simply a compliment to first aid, but some of the recipes for cure are one that could be adapted into everyday use, like Echinacea tincture, to boost immunity, yes it easily bought, but even easier to grow, plus Echinacea plants look good too. Where relevant we are also pointed towards the kitchen for kitchen aid, like when suffering a nose bleed, where a dab of vinegar on a cotton plug cauterises the capillary of the inner nose.

For someone who was slight sceptic about how useful garden aid really can be I’ve found myself  convinced. As it so happened, the day the book arrived I managed to get a bite from a dog and out of interest turned to the book to see what advice was on offer, to which I found myself concocting a thyme antiseptic rinse (after the proper first aid step were taken of course). It not only worked but smelled a whole lot better than any antiseptic cream every has! Reading through the book is not labour intensive, It is  written in  a very easy to read style and throws in plenty of things to get the odd giggle out of you as you struggle to pull splinter from your foot! The fact is accidents happen every day, no matter how careful we are, as gardeners we all have an invaluable source of other first aid remedies growing in our own patches.

This was a fascinating book to read, from a learning and information point of view, but more importantly it’s one that can be constantly referred back and already I’ve found myself doing just that.  So the next time you step on a rake, get stung by a wasp or get a touch of sunburn, you can refer to the Holistic Gardener for the best garden ailment advice your could find in on neat little book.   I don’t like marking things out of ten or anything like that, this is simply an excellent book and would be an invaluable addition to anybody’s bookshelves. I hear its selling quickly too, better get your hands on one while you still can!




Paul T Smyth

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.