paper, 349 p., $26.95
Using Native American medicine wheels as its inspiration, E. Barrie Kavasch’s book offers new options for garden design. With ample illustrations and a historical account filled with regional and tribal examples, the author explains how medicine gardens have been used to create “sacred spaces.” Viewing the circle as a sacred symbol and a means of “centering earth energies,” Kavasch details ground plans and styles of medicine wheels, and the symbolic objects that they might include.
Kavasch discusses constuction, planting, and care of the garden, as well as uses, growth needs and propagation of 50 “key plants” ranging from angelica to yucca. Each plant is carefully illustrated, and companion plants and pertinent precautions are provided. The author’s ancestors—a mix of native Americans and “farming folk ... wildcrafted medicinal plants ... for early pharmaceutical companies.” Kavasch then explains therapeutic uses of medicine wheel plants.
The Medicine Wheel Garden ends with descriptions of the rituals and celebrations for which the garden and its plants are used. Appendices list native plant and Native American craft suppliers, as well as sacred sites in the United States and Canada. The book also includes a selected bibliography.
— Mary Louise Doherty, library volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden