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Book Review: Israel Gardening Encyclopedia by Walter Frankl

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Found this little gardening guide in a second hand shop in the old city of Be'er Sheva, down a few narrow roads from the city's shuk (market), the second-hand bookstore boast an entire corner devoted to English books. You can find me in that corner almost every week, hoping to find newly donated second-hand gems like this one.

Israel Gardening Encyclopedia by Walter Frankl is a neat little encyclopedia divided by months starting in September the beginning of the Jewish new year and agricultural year in Isael. I have read several gardening books, but I have never found one specific to Israel until this one and it was such a joy to read. Not only well-written and comprehensive, but full of facts that I can apply to my own garden year-round.

Walter Frankl has a regular column called "Gardener's Corner" in the Jerusalem Post for over a decade. He was the co-founder of the Jerusalem Horticulture Society and honorary life-member of the Israeli House Plants Society.

The encyclopedia is summarized as,

"An invaluable guide that goes through the months of the year, each with its particular plants and necessary care. The author's knowledge is rooted in personal experience, and his book defines the special horticultural problems peculiar to a country with a varied landscape and climate. Comprehensive information on the wild flowers, plants and trees which grace the countryside."

Three and a half stars for this one as it didn't have chapter heading on any pages and therefore was hard to find exactly the month I was searching for. I had to dog ear the bottom corner of each chapter page as a reference point because without it is very difficult to find anything. So it is a gardening encyclopedia, but without the encyclopedic ease of one.

I really loved the Chinese proverb Frankl included at the beginning of his acknowledgements,

"If you want to be happy for a few hours, drink a bottle of wine.

If you want to be happy for a weekend, get married and hide away.

If you want to be happy for a whole week, kill a lamb and eat it.

If you want to be happy for all your life long, become a gardener."

I have just barely scratched the surface of the front and back gardens surrounding Sunbird House, but it has already shown me how fertile this area of the northern Negev can be with it's cool humid nights and hot sunny days. I will definitely be referencing this book when Spring is here again and I begin plans for a tropical front garden and some rooftop vegetable beds.

Do you have any gardening books, related to Israel or not, that you want to recommend? Comment them below, I would love to find more to read!

Until the next book, be well!


Picture of Avigail wearing a beige colored sweater, silk neck scarf, red lipstick, and smiling.

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