cover image My Wild Garden: Notes from a Writer’s Eden

My Wild Garden: Notes from a Writer’s Eden

Meir Shalev, trans. from Hebrew by Joanna Chen. Schocken, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4351-2

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.)