|'Therapy' – Joyce Johnson's ribbon-winning design in her category at Canada Blooms 2015 – seems like a serendipitous way to begin a post on The Herb Lover's Spa Book.|
The Herb Lover's Spa Book by Sue Goetz (St. Lynn's Press) is all about how to "create a luxury spa experience at home with fragrant herbs from your garden." Goetz divides her book into three sections. The first is about garden design with a spa focus. The second is about 19 types of herb that are pretty easy to grow – and how to plant, harvest and preserve them. Then there are recipes for making your own spa therapy products, including ingredients you've grown yourself.
micro-beads. Or how easy it is to make old-fashioned pleasures like herbal sachets to tuck into a pillowcase.
Most of the recipes sound delicious. Making my own vanilla-scented jojoba oil looks dead easy – after that wee tricky bit of actually finding jojoba oil and vanilla beans. There's a nice recipe for hand and nail butter, using cocoa butter, beeswax, grapeseed oil and and essential oils – with an accompanying description of a hand massage that made my shoulders unclench just reading it.
But if I can wear my quibbler's hat for just a moment – it isn't about Goetz or this book specifically, but with the claims made generally by the spa industry, and which writers sometimes take up without question. Some "spa science" is questionable.
Yes, a massage feels fantastic and, sure, fragrances can be soothing and even transportative. The problem begins when we start giving spa therapies magical properties. Like "detoxification." Or even something as taken-for-granted as epsom salt in a bath – does it really make it better than just a warm bath itself for relieving pain in your aching muscles? No, actually. The science doesn't support it.
Taken with a grain of (epsom?) salt, however, I like the idea of home-made luxury, and Goetz does show how make it simple. The torture of receiving a book like this to review in mid-February was not having anything homegrown to try it with. But soon, baby, soon. I can almost smell the rosemary.