Jane Shaw was working as a volunteer in Chelsea's famous Physic Garden when she earned a placement to work for a year on a very special organic garden in Greece. But this was to be no easy-going break in the Mediterranean. Nicknamed 'Alcatraz' by the outgoing assistant, the five-acre plot was devoid of creature comforts, perched on a steep, remote hillside that was blindingly hot in summer and freezing in winter, and overseen by a 74-year-old, passionate, mercurial eccentric English lady called Joy.
On arrival, Jane is immediately drawn into the intrigue of village life, such as the ongoing feud with the nouveau richeex-pat neighbour with a sports car, whom Joy suspects has dug an illegal bore hole to water his terraced lawns. But most of all she is beguiled by the vibrant energy of the landscape, the folklore, the food and the numerous engaging characters who flock to Joy as the wise matriarch of the locale and pay a visit to her remarkable creation. The story arcs through a year of seasons in the garden as Jane learns to love its wild beauty and to relish the hard work and care it needs. This is a charming, wildly entertaining and joyful portrait of a very special place, and will appeal to anyone who loves gardening, or who has enjoyed books such as Driving Over Lemons.
Jane Shaw left school to work in a number of jobs, including darkroom assistant and a brief stint in The Royal Navy. She graduated as a graphic designer and worked as a runner/driver on a TV set before enjoying employment as a bookseller on Charing Cross Road. At the weekends she volunteered with BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) and, hooked by the horticultural bug, enrolled on a gardening course. She volunteered at Chelsea Physic Garden, worked in Hyde Park and completed a three-month internship at Kew before jetting off to Greece and experiencing the unique gardening internship chronicled in Talking to Zeus. She is in her early thirties and continues to work as a gardener.
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