REVIEW: Nature’s Garden – A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

By Mindy


Author Samuel Thayer is the modern gold standard of foraging for wild food – a living legend on par with the late great Euell Gibbons. If you want to hear a podcast featuring Samuel Thayer, The Permaculture Podcast has a great one!

Nature’s Garden–along with its sister text The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants –is one of the best foraging books available. If you are interested in foraging for your own food, and only have the resources to invest in a single book, I would strongly consider this one.

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Nature’s Garden is a medium sized desk reference (largest dimension 9+ inches) and 512 pages. This book is not perfect for bed cuddling…but with a rather flexible and durable soft cover binding, pre-sleep reading can be accomplished! 

This is not a field guide either, although if you have abundant time and are not going far from the car, you may enjoy lugging this out in the wild. There is certainly a lot of information packed within its pages that may be useful in the field. And it can be used as a tertiary identification source, behind your other standard field guides (like this one or this one).

The first 71 pages introduce foraging and dive into different topics such as “Does foraging harm the environment?” and “One Month Eating Wild”. There is abundant practical advice based on experience packed within these pages.

The remainder of the book is devoted to descriptions of over 40 wild foods, including for example dandelion, dock, amaranth, and hazelnuts. Each entry has several photographs, which are much more useful than stylized. (For what its worth, overly stylized photographs in herbalism and wild food reference books that focus on beauty over information are a pet peeve of mine!) That said, the photographs are very well done and mostly beautiful anyway.

Each entry is thorough, dense, and very detailed. For instance, Dandelion has ten pages devoted to it, with nine photographs. The monograph on acorns is second to none, and it is the reference we relied most heavily upon when we were learning how to forage and utilize them.  Every entry is captivating; it is amazing how clever Samuel Thayer is with these wild foods!

For beginners, experts, and anyone who wants to know the possibilities of feeding off of the land around us, this book should be a first stop!

Check out our 2-part guide on Beginning Foraging !

Note: The Walking Herbalist is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This means that Marc will receive a small commission for each purchase on Amazon that you make after linking to it from this website. 

The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an affiliate, we receive no compensation for this.