Book Review: “The Celestial Garden”

Review The Celestial Garden
“The Celestial Garden: Growing Herbs, Vegetables, and Flowers in Sync with the Moon and Zodiac”
By Jane Hawley Stevens
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2023
240 pages, paperback, $29.95

“The Celestial Garden: Growing Herbs, Vegetables, and Flowers in Sync with the Moon and Zodiac” by Jane Hawley Stevens invites readers on a journey into her world of gardening under the guidance of the moon, offering a unique blend of horticultural expertise and astrological wisdom. Stevens illuminates the interconnectedness between growing plants and the cosmos, guiding readers towards a deeper understanding of the celestial forces at play in their own backyards.

At the heart of this book lies Stevens’ reverence for the natural world, which she conveys through her passion for gardening and her herbal farm-based business. Over the course of her gardening career Stevens has carefully studied what moon cycles affect the vitality of plants and how a gardener can work in rhythm with the moon. This book could be particularly helpful for new gardeners who can become overwhelmed at the thought of what to plant when or when to harvest, giving a framework to follow based on the moon, stars and planets.

For each phase of the moon Stevens offers gardening tips and tricks as well as practical information from her favorite way to start seeds, with a step-by-step guide, to how to harvest flowers, leaves and more. Rarely found in other herbal gardening books, she also gives a guide to vegetative propagation, a method that tends to work well for many woody medicinal plants. Garden design is also discussed, and a chapter is devoted to her personal garden that she refers to as her “Chakra Planetary Garden.” She provides a quick primer on the chakra system, the corresponding plants she aligns with each chakra and how they grow together in her garden.

Rich with personal insights and favorite seasonal recipes, this small volume is a quick but informative read that can be referenced time and time again. Inspiring quotes by herbalists and philosophers are peppered throughout, along with photos and diagrams. One of the most unique aspects of the book is its astrological profiles, which invite readers to reflect on their own astrological sun sign. Stevens then offers medicinal herbs that would support one based on this sign as well as suggestions for their “best gardening activities.”

“The Celestial Garden” invites readers to embark on a journey through the seasons and daily cycles in their gardens, exploring the beauty and wonder of the natural world with fresh eyes to the sky.

– Denise DeSpirito, Of the Spirit Herbals, Lincolnville, Maine

This review was originally published in the summer 2024 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Browse the archives for free content on organic agriculture and sustainable living practices.

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