ORCHARD HOUSE by Tara Austen Weaver


How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
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How a novice gardener became a permaculturalist and found community in the process.

When Edible Seattle editor Weaver (The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis, 2010, etc.) and her mother first found an overgrown half-acre of garden in a quiet neighborhood, they didn’t see the work required to turn the chaos into a cultivated garden. They only saw the potential, feeling a sense of magic as they stood among the huge rhododendrons and blackberry vines laden with berries. Some of Weaver’s best memories from her childhood involved a garden, her mother, and fresh tomatoes and ripe strawberries, and she hoped those brief moments of happiness and togetherness might reappear in this new garden and orchard. Strong descriptions of the numerous vegetable plants and fruit trees Weaver planted and the work involved to reclaim this neglected oasis intermingle with her personal reflections on her childhood, her longings for a solid family life and the desire for a community of friends. Lyrical passages recount the joyous moments Weaver shared with her nieces and nephews, brief passages of time that took her breath away at the beauty of it all—when the light hit at just the right angle or when her nieces shouted with glee, their faces and hands smeared with berry juice. Her anxiety, frustration and weariness also play an integral part in this narrative, as she continued to learn that gardening is not an exact science. Nature has its own moods and quirks as much as any human, and she had to learn to be flexible and adapt or break in the process. The result was an abundance of harvests—of food, friendship and love.

Honest and moving, one woman’s initiation into intensive gardening with her mother, which changed a neglected space into something beautiful and bountiful and shifted their relationship as well.

Pub Date: March 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-345-54807-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2015


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