Forest bathing

Not everything in the garden is lovely

While I was reading Most Delicious Poison, I visited a herbal garden in Spain which features the plants grown by the Nasrid rulers of Granada hundreds of years ago. They cultivated myrtle for its medicinal uses and jasmine for its fragrance. How did they know of myrtle’s properties? Some ancient ancestor must have figured it out. And that ancestor might be more ancient than we realise. Noah Whiteman explains that DNA from plants found in Neanderthals’ teeth tartar suggests even they were self-medicating with herbs. We have been entangled with the chemicals around us for as long as we have been human. The author of this book, a professor of

Try forest bathing – by day and night – to ward off depression

Ever since a consensus emerged that trees and, by extension, their ecosystems, were both vastly interesting and badly threatened, great tottering logpiles of books about woods or individual tree species have seen the light of day. Of these books, one of the most influential has been The Hidden Life of Trees (2018), written by Peter Wohlleben, who for many years has looked after a forest in the Eifel mountains in Germany. I read that book with interest, and needed no persuading that woodland trees form, in effect, a community, both as a result of the scents they give off and the interactions between their roots underground. And the book contained