07 Apr Essex herbalist explores the secret history of the plants growing in her local churchyard
Leila White has always had a keen interest in plants. But it was after a period of significant illness that she found herself sitting in her local churchyard, reflecting on the still luxury of the greenery around her, that she had an epiphany. Over the centuries since her little Essex church was founded, the plants and herbs which flourished in its grounds had served the community in experimental ways, long before traditional medicine was available. Leila was struck by the plants’ history – and how little anyone must know of it – and decided to trace the stories of the various wildflowers, herbs and plants back to their roots.
Churchyard Epiphany is a joyous celebration of the lesser known and the overlooked, a life-affirming account of the power of plants. These plants have been used religious as part of an evolving pharmacopeia going back centuries; by the Druids and Celts, Hildegard and Trotula, Gerard, Culpepper, the Shakers, Napier, Grieve, Bach, and more. Today many of these plants continue to perform important roles in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Homeopathy and in the Bach Flower Remedies.
The tranquility, beauty and abundance of life in the natural world has offered solace to many of us during the Covid crisis. As we begin to emerge from isolation, our desire to observe and conserve the countryside we have fallen back in love with has been renewed, our knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of being outdoors redefined. Churchyard Epiphany is a delightful and poignant reminder of how the natural world has touched generations that have come before us as it continues to enrich our lives today.
About the author: Leila White worked as a teacher for much of her professional life. However, in the 1990s she changed focus completely to focus on plant based therapies studying Bioforce Phytotherapy, Aromatherapy and Bach Flower Remedies. Her Master’s Degree in Complementary and Alternative Therapies at Exeter University and the Bristol Cancer Help Centre was delayed due to illness. After a long recovery, Leila met the herbalist Melanie Cardwell and took part in her herbal studies course, Herbcraft Academy. Leila is married with three sons and five grandchildren and lives in Uttlesford, Essex.
Churchyard Epiphany by Leila White (published by Clink Street May 4th 2021, RRP £11.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook) is available now from online retailers and can be ordered from all good bookstores.