Plants have had symbolic as well as practical meanings and uses since the beginning of human civilisation. This vivid account introduces readers to a rich variety of British and Irish plant folklore, drawing on Roy Vickery's own unsurpassed archives collated over forty years, and a wide range of historical and contemporary literature. Unlike other books which re-use material collected in the Victorian era, this book is based on new material collected by the author, and shows that while some of the wilder superstitions have faded we still cling to the symbolic importance of plants. Putting conkers in wardrobes keeps moths away, and parsley - the Devil's plant - only germinates if sown on Good Friday. A potato in the bed helps do away with cramp and in Cornwall crawling under a bramble bush was considered a cure for blackheads. From plants that foretold births and deaths, to herbal remedies, planting and harvesting rituals, friendship bushes and festive garlands this is a book of rich and living social history and folklore.
Here is an astonishing treasure trove of plant lore gathered by Roy Vickery since the mid-1970s. It includes material from over 300 sources from all corners of Britain and Ireland. With our society's ever-increasing urbanization much of our dependence on wild plants has diminished but many customs linger...it would be a dull world without our mistletoe at Christmas, pumpkins at Hallowe'en, red roses for Valentine's Day, and even leeks or daffodils for St David's Day. This is a fascinating compilation.--Sanford Lakoff
Roy Vickery's book takes you into the heart of the countryside and the underworld of the city on a fascinating journey of botanical folklore - through life and death, past and present.--Sanford Lakoff
From 'doddering dickies' to 'yowky yowlings', from the old Glastonbury thorn legend to floral tributes to Princess Diana, Garlands, Conkers and Mother-Die is a delightful blend of sound scholarship and fascinating examples of plant-lore ancient and modern. Vickery expertly guides this tour of traditional uses of plants for eating, healing, marking agricultural cycles, weather forecasting, good luck or bad, making music, decorating and commemorating. And there's no end to what you can do with an onion. --Sanford Lakoff
He [Vickery] will jog memories and teach at the same time... He writes, and lists, well. He controls his mass of facts and non-facts with skill, and shows us a kind of glory.--Sanford Lakoff
Vickery's book is filled with historical facts and folklore about plants that predict events, that cast spells, that have tales to tell.--Sanford Lakoff
This earthy compendium of plant customs, superstitions, games and remedies, gathered over 30 years by the botanist and green activist Roy Vickery...proves how much botanical lore survives in the British Isles, and how much has been lost. It also oozes the kind of facts you itch to drop into conversation. Take the pages on bridal bouquets. Who knew that 'something blue' probably refers to the periwinkle? (Herbalists believed 'it induceth love between man and wife'.) Who now remembers that tossing the bridal bouquet is an American rite, and that British brides used to lay it on the grave of a parent or grandparent? Confetti is a relic of the tradition of throwing wheat grains for fruitfulness... --Sanford Lakoff