My wild garden Notes from a writer's eden

Meir Shalev

Book - 2020

"A joyful round of the seasons in the garden of the best-selling novelist, memoirist, and champion putterer with a wheelbarrow. On the perimeter of Israel's Jezreel Valley, with the Carmel Mountains rising up to the west, Meir Shalev has a large garden, "neither neatly organized nor well-kept," as he cheerfully explains. Often covered in mud and scrapes, Shalev cultivates both nomadic plants and "house dwellers," using his own quirky techniques. He extolls the virtu...es of the lemon tree; rescues a precious variety of purple snapdragon from the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway; does battle with a saboteur mole rat. He even gives us his superior private recipe for curing olives. The book will attract gardeners and literary readers alike, with its appreciation for the joy of living, quite literally, on earth, and for our borrowed time on a particular patch of it--enhanced, the author continually reminds us, by our honest, respectful dealings with all manner of beings who inhabit it with us"--

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Subjects
Genres
Seasons in literature
Philosophy of nature
Published
New York : Schocken Books [2020]
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Hebrew
Physical Description
viii, 279 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780805243512
0805243518
Main Author
Meir Shalev (author)
Other Authors
Joanna (Translator) Chen (translator), Refaʼelah Shir (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Gardeners, by their very nature, are observant beings attuned to their surroundings by necessity if not design. Prolific Israeli writer and journalist Shalev (Two She-Bears, 2013) is one such gardener. His property in the Jezreel Valley is so lush and vibrant that it is frequently mistaken for a wild, public land, invaded by marauding wedding photographers and exuberant children. Teeming with cyclamen and poppies, fruit and olive trees, it provides homes for spiders and snakes, mole rats and wasps. It is also where Shalev's heart and soul soars. In this poignant, smart, funny, and uplifting memoir, delightfully augmented by Refaella Shir's cunning illustrations, Shalev is not so much concerned with imparting horticultural how-to as he is with conveying emotional why-not. Why not treat garden ants with equanimity instead of scorn? Why not embrace the wildness that carries a norm-defying beauty? From the slow-to-grow squill (in the lily family) that imparts valuable lessons in patience to the spiritual rewards of walking the earth barefoot, Shalev's life-embracing and –affirming reflections are buoyant reminders of life's rewards and nature's precious bounty. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Israeli author Shalev (A Pigeon and a Boy) descends from a long line of gardeners but only became interested in the subject himself relatively late in life, eventually curating his outdoor space from a neglected landscape. Here the author shares a collSECTION of short essays about his relationship with his wild garden located in the Jezreel Valley of Israel. Topics range from individual plants, such as sea squill, cyclamen, or lemon trees, to favored tools to the destructiveness of the local mole rats. Shalev writes of learning patience as he grows plants from seed that will not flower for several years, and how as an observer of nature, especially in his own yard, he gently shapes the garden while celebrating its wildness. A nurturer of plants who is careful not to waste even a single seed and mourns the death of a tree, Shalev is a lyrical stylist and philosopher who writes with passion and humor. Drawings by Shir enhance the text. VERDICT A beautiful love letter to gardens that is sure to appeal to anyone who has cultivated one of their own.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove, IL Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Shalev (My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner), an Israeli novelist and amateur gardener, endears in this delightful memoir cum gardening guide. Inspired by his Hasidic grandfather's Ukrainian garden with fruit trees inspired by the Torah, the author developed his own garden, gathering hyacinth squill bulbs, anemone, Syrian cornflower-thistle and lupine seeds from neighbors' gardens, and sage and marjoram from a nearby nursery. He generously references the Bible ("The first fruit trees to be given names were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge that grew in the Garden of Eden") and elaborates on the virtues of the pomegranate, blood orange, and lemon tree (it "does not make any special effort to endear itself to its owners"). Shalev's own garden, he proudly writes, has attracted everything from brides and kindergartners to mole rats, bats, and aggressive ants. Punctuated with charming botanical drawings, Shalev's musings flow effortlessly from start to finish. His lyrical prose, generous pacing, and passion will please any reader with a green thumb. (Mar.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Colorfully illustrated, this lovely book from the best-selling novelist, memoirist and champion gardener takes us to the perimeter of Israel’s Jezreel Valley where he has his beloved garden and shares his appreciation for the joy of living, quite literally, on Earth. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A joyful round of the seasons in the garden of the best-selling novelist, memoirist, and champion putterer with a wheelbarrow. On the perimeter of Israel's Jezreel Valley, with the Carmel Mountains rising up to the west, Meir Shalev has a large garden, "neither neatly organized nor well-kept," as he cheerfully explains. Often covered in mud and scrapes, Shalev cultivates both nomadic plants and "house dwellers," using his own quirky techniques. He extolls the virtues of the lemon tree; rescues a precious variety of purple snapdragon from the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway; does battle with a saboteur mole rat. He even gives us his superior private recipe for curing olives. The book will attract gardeners and literary readers alike, with its appreciation forthe joy of living, quite literally, on earth, and for our borrowed time on a particular patch of it--enhanced, the author continually reminds us, by our honest, respectful dealings with all manner of beings who inhabit it with us"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A colorfully illustrated round of the season in the garden of the best-selling novelist, memoirist, and champion putterer with a wheelbarrow   On the perimeter of Israel’s Jezreel Valley, with the Carmel mountains rising up in the west, Meir Shalev has a beloved garden, “neither neatly organized nor well kept,” as he cheerfully explains. Often covered in mud and scrapes, Shalev cultivates both nomadic plants and “house dwellers,” using his own quirky techniques.  He extolls the virtues of the lemon tree, rescues a precious variety of purple snapdragon from the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv highway, and does battle with a saboteur mole rat. He even gives us his superior private recipe for curing olives.   Informed by Shalev’s literary sensibility, his sometime riotous humor, and his deep curiosity about the land, My Wild Garden abounds with appreciation for the joy of living, quite literally, on Earth. Our borrowed time on any particular patch of it is enhanced, the author reminds us, by our honest, respectful dealings with all manner of beings who inhabit it with us.