Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: Our Garden

Our garden
Our Orange Tree

There are few places on earth we’d rather be than our Jerusalem home and garden. We found/created our paradise…We love traveling and visiting exotic locales, but our garden fills our soul. Owning land in Israel is a MIRACLE!

We found our garden apartment serendipitously. We went shopping for a home in Israel with our “wish list”: a new construction penthouse, with a large terrace. We were in a penthouse in our complex when we looked down and saw garden apartments, we had no idea they existed! Our relator was not in favor of showing it to us. We went there next. Within seconds of walking into one of the garden apartments we decided to grab it. We could see through the apartment (unfinished living area into an expansive backyard filled with dirt) onto a gorgeous view of a distant valley. We could not believe it was still available.

The American dream of owning a home and garden is unique. Israelis do not understand Americans’ love of gardens. The average Israeli owns a small apartment and is fortunate to have a modest terrace. They see gardens as expensive to landscape, maintain, and view outdoor space as a place to dry their clothes on a line (yikes!).

As soon as we knew it was ours we began dreaming of what it could be. We envisioned a Biblical feel. We chose flag stones with ground cover, as grass would not be ideal and, although it’s popular, in Israel astro-turf was just not an option. The Bible refers to Israel as the land flowing with milk and honey and vegetation being gigantic, it’s true! The plants and trees love that amazing sunshine, given the right amount of water and proper soil they grow like crazy.

Each spring we look forward to seeing the buds/blossoms on the branches. We learned no buds, no blossoms, no fruit. Our favorite trees are the fruit and old olive trees. The orange tree was a house warming present from my Mom, she couldn’t wait for the day we could pick oranges off the tree. When I picked our first orange I cried, it was so delicious. I felt connected to my Mom and “The Land” in a way I never had.

Israeli experiences come with shenanigans and an education… The architect of our complex designed garden apartments with no thought given to landscaping or maintaining them. The only access to the garden was over the back fence or through our front door. We landscaped during construction, items were swung over the building by crane then lifted over the back fence.

When the complex was completed, the builder buried waste under our yards then put 8″ of soil on top, we were supposed to get 12″. The soil was red, not rich, mostly clay. When we designed the garden it never occurred to us to ask about soil quality. The landscaper used our soil. In the US landscapers always give fresh rich soil. Our trees and plants suffered when the roots hit below 8″. We since put in compost rich soil and fertilizer and the trees/plants are thriving.

We would come back and were disappointed with our landscape maintenance. I began pulling weeds between their visits. I encountered tough and prickly weeds, some sprayed a strong chemical causing my skin to react. I discussed my disappointment with the boss. He claimed he was doing the work. I told him we have an outdoor camera which records, he looked down in shame. We now have a different company. Twice a month the landscaper carries the equipment through our home and on occasion jumps the fence. We just shrug our shoulders and laugh…

Our garden is our oasis, we planted birds of paradise. On a clear day we see the Dead Sea, our biblical view. My perfect day? I wake up to glorious sunshine; make a pot of coffee, do my yoga then meditate, read a book, and finish the day sharing a glass of rose with friends, in our garden. That is NIRVANA.

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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