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Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  282 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
For fans of Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving memoir of rediscovering, reinventing, and reconnecting, as an estranged mother and daughter come together to revive a long-abandoned garden and ultimately their relationship and themselves.

Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real estate listing o
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Ballantine Books (first published March 24th 2015)
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Sian Jones
May 24, 2015 Sian Jones rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm really good at telling folks what doesn't work for me about their writing, but I get a bit tongue-tied when it comes to describing something that really works for me. The cliches come: I was touched. I was moved. I didn't want it to end. But really, honestly, I was touched and moved and didn't want it to end. I mostly read at the kitchen table while eating breakfast these days, and this book sat on my kitchen table for more than a week so I could linger over the last two chapters. I knew ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Laurie rated it really liked it
The author’s family wasn’t close- in fact, they’d decided that they worked better living in different cities. But now Weaver’s Seattle based brother has two children and another on the way, and her 70-ish mother decides she needs to move to that city. When they see a very unpromising property- a rundown old house with a huge, overgrown lot with fruit trees and berry bushes- they can’t get it out of their heads. The mother buys the house because of the food producing prospect; Weaver is enthused ...more
Randal White
Jul 08, 2015 Randal White rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, netgalley
Orchard House - An Outstanding Read! An outstanding book! The author, raised by her somewhat emotionally distant mother, is searching for a more satisfying and meaningful familial relationship. The two come together through the purchase and tending of a large Seattle garden. Kudos to Ms. Weaver for her ability to lay bare her soul and describe her emotions so well! And to be so brave to put it all out there for everyone to see! So many times in the book I found myself relating to her journey, ...more
NancyL Luckey
Jan 23, 2016 NancyL Luckey rated it it was amazing
Got a teaser from my library site for this book and knew I wanted to read it. I'd love to have lived in the house with the overgrown garden/orchard in Seattle! A mother and daughter shared it when they weren't living elsewhere - why they ever left it is beyond me! They both eventually learned "community" by reaching out to family and friends thru the garden. Tara built wonderful relationships with her nieces (niecelets) and thus with her brother. Wonderful book for anyone!
Suzanne Barrett
Mar 31, 2015 Suzanne Barrett rated it it was amazing
Orchard House seems at first a story of a dilapidated Seattle house and its wondrous but vine-covered and neglected garden. At once intriguing but rather off-putting, the author and her academic mother begin to tackle what seems like an impossible task.
The property reminds Weaver’s mother of earlier gardens she tended, and she’s so drawn to the possibility of restoring it to the vegetable garden and fruit orchard of her dreams that she purchases it despite its shortcomings. Weaver, a writer livi

*I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley to review.

When I think of my mother I first remember our trips to the library and our shared love for reading and then, it is my memories of our gardening together. Reading this book brought back such sweet memories of gardening and cooking and preserving the bounty from our garden. For the past two years I have been delving back into the rich world of gardening and canning the rich rewards. My own daughter and her husband were the ones who
Lin Stepp
Dec 28, 2015 Lin Stepp rated it really liked it
At the beginning of the book a daughter is looking at an old, neglected home and garden with her mother. Of course it is the garden, from the first, that draws them both … and the mother and daughter bonding over fixing up the garden and working together doing it is the primary plot of this memoir. Anyone who loves to garden will especially love this book and its detail … but even those who don't garden but just appreciate the beauty of nature and growing things will find joy in the story, too. ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Dorine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gardening and Vegetable Lovers
A memoir of a garden renewal mixed with the imperfections of family dynamics, ORCHARD HOUSE will touch your heart and encourage your return to the land for your sustenance.

Raising two children alone had been difficult for her mother, but Tara Austen Weaver has fond memories as a child when her family moved to the country. Her mother fed Tara and her brother from the many fruits and vegetables she grew, until they had to move back to the city. Years later and miles apart, their mother is once aga
May 21, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
A lyrically written memoir about how Tara Austen Weaver grew a garden and in the process came to peace with herself, her family and the tough childhood that left her mother distant and estranged from her daughter. Throughout her adult years, Tara has an on and off again relationship with her mother and brother and they do not see each other often. In her 70's her mother decides to move the same city as her children and buys a home and garden which Tara attends to. In the long journey of becoming ...more
Amber Dawn
Apr 07, 2015 Amber Dawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, first-read
I'm reviewing an advanced uncorrected proof I received through the GoodReads' First Read program.

Orchard House is an unflinchingly honest look at the relationship between Weaver and her family. She pulls no punches or tries to make herself better than she is; her flaws are just as evident as her family's. That dedication to realism is what makes the book. Weaver and her family seem like your own family and you're just as invested in her journey as if it's your own. There's no easy fix. That's wh
May 03, 2015 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I heard Tara Weaver, a master gardener and a permaculture designer, speak at the BookLoft in German Village, Columbus, OH on April 27th. She who graciously shared her experiences during her talk.

In one long sitting, I devoured this book. I'd say I savored it, but that's too simple a description for this book. I was enchanted, inspired, and, at times, saddened by this memoir. Nevertheless, I wanted to finish it because I connected to strongly, much to my surprise, to many
May 19, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Orchard House is a wonderful story about rebuilding relationships, mending, healing and building a family. It also describes creating a singular life of your own and the value of sharing your personal life with people around you. I really wish I would have read this book long ago.

I found Tara Austen Weaver's book is one of the few books that I will read again.

What a wonderful book!

Feb 11, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it
Another recommended by my "virtual" genealogy book club. (They recommend the book, interview the author, but I wish there were more opportunity to exchange thoughts about the book, oh well). A memoir of a family trying to be more of a family as seen from the perspective of the author. Interesting observations on what life is all about and how we humans try to live it.
Oct 29, 2016 Suzy rated it liked it
I wish there was the ability to give half stars - this would be 3.5.
Sep 21, 2016 Susan rated it liked it
Memoir of Weaver as her family comes back together in Seattle. Plenty of gardening information interspersed throughout. I thought I would enjoy it as an avid gardener, and there were definitely moments of shared frustration and understanding, but I found it a bit heavy-handed and more than enough woe-is-me therapy for the author.
Beth Peninger
Oct 04, 2015 Beth Peninger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this free reader's copy. In exchange I am providing an honest review.

What a lovely read. I am not a fan of 1) the outdoors 2) dirt 3) bugs 4) sweat and I have a black thumb. If it isn't human I have not been able to keep it alive. So I appreciate people who can grow things and are fans of the things I am not. Weaver is one of those people. She uses a large, neglected garden as the picture for restoring her disconnected family.
Every family has a he
Mar 22, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it
I know people who love to garden. I know people who hate to garden - including me. But, I am learning to appreciate it - even the heat and the bugs that destroy my plants. Flowers are probably easier, I am sure. My book club group seemed really divided on this group - and it seemed to fall along the lines of those who like to garden loved it, and those who don't didn't. And then, there was me. I think Weaver is very adept at telling stories. Her memoir flows much like memory - jumping from one ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Tara Weaver grew up with her younger brother in a single-parent household. She never felt much like a child because she was too aware of how much her mother worked and how hard things were. But, when she and her brother were young their mother made a point to find a house where they could plant a large garden and grow their own food. Now in her 70's Weaver's mother decides to buy a run-down house in the Seattle area mainly because of the yard and fruit trees - she sees the potential for a huge ...more
Tammy O
Mar 17, 2015 Tammy O rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
"I wanted my mother to understand that I didn't plan picnics and parties because life was perfect and easy...I planned them because what is all the work for if you cannot gather the people you love around you in a golden sunset and laugh together?"

Weaver describes some wonderful times spent in their Orchard House garden--with her mother, her nieces, her nephew, friends and large family gatherings. These were the times she had dreamed about and envisioned when her mother purchased the house and g
Jul 24, 2015 EL rated it liked it
The library summary states "Imagine The Secret Garden for grownups-a group of misfits who happen to be related to each other. . ." I think that they caught the spirit of this book precisely. In fact, the secret garden is about several misfits who find each other through the garden. It is and says more about the misfits than the garden. This book does exactly the same thing.

I liked this book. Sure there's a lot about the author's disfunctional family and her life outside the garden, but this is
Feb 11, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I feel as if I could write two distinct reviews for this book. One about the format: I've now discovered the recipe for writing a memoir. Choose something to act as a metaphor for your life. Follow it out over time so that it develops more depth and meaning. Intersperse it with anecdotes and details from your past so the reader understands the connection between your life and the metaphor. End chapters with some poignant comment along the lines of "But there was always [the metaphor]." Not that ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Amy rated it it was ok
I expected to like this book, which is why I ordered a copy to own. I finally finished it, but I started the first chapter a few times before it finally took enough that I continued. There were pluses. I enjoyed the gardening talk and I liked the author in most ways. Her love of family is endearing, but I kept wondering how her brother and sister-in-law felt about this memoir. Perhaps they were fully supportive and agreed with the way she portrayed them, but from my perspective there were many ...more
Oct 13, 2015 Maija rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, 2015
I have read Tea's blog on and off for many years, so I already knew a little of the story of Orchard House from some of her photos & stories. I really enjoyed this deeper story of how it all came about and the lessons learned. When you see a garden project like this online, you often see the internet version - pretty photos of things growing & jam being made.

Tea's story in this book gave the honest story of how much more complicated it was. At times, I must admit her honesty made me a l
May 26, 2015 Carol rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
First off, I read an advanced/uncorrected proof copy of the book.

Secondly, if I was younger when I read this, I may have liked it better. But I have realized that you cannot change people, you cannot force your family into being what they are not.

And finally, what the hell is her obsession with blond/e hair!? I thought it was just me being nit-picky because I noticed this so often. But it got so damned annoying that I had to stop reading the book, and go back and count every time she commented
Apr 08, 2015 Nelya rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Orchard House is a memoir about Weaver reconnecting with her mother and family after buying a dilapidated house with a garden. The author's recollections from her childhood are heartbreaking and you can't help but feel sad for what she's missed out on as a child. She does get a second chance at building and growing a bond with her mother and brother while gardening together and hopefully finding some peace with her past.

Although I'm not a gardener myself, I did enjoy reading and learning about
Aug 03, 2015 Athenameilahn rated it it was amazing
I have zero interest in gardening, but the author of this memoir is one of my favorite bloggers and writers overall. After receiving it as a gift I had to put it aside for a few months, but the suggestion to read at least the last chapter for its description of pumpkin sex was very wise. :) Her writing is accessible, but gives you much to think about. I ended up underlining several passages, especially some about chasing your dreams even when you feel like you're a failure. My only slight ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Donna rated it it was amazing
Firstly, I had won this advanced unread proof copy of Orchard House from Good Reads First Reads Giveaway.

Orchard House, a memoir of Tara Austen Weaver and her dysfunctional family. Trying to reconnect with her mother and brother in Seattle seemed a bit difficult for Tara at first, I believe. Her mother had purchased a dilapidated house with an overgrown garden and orchard. Weeds had taken over, but plans were underway on what was to be done with the house and garden. Need to revive the old place
Apr 09, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
It is one powerful writer who can inspire me to even think about digging around in the dirt, let alone prompt me to start googling designs for waist high raised beds. After finishing the memoir and discovering who her friends are from the acknowledgement pages, from the company she keeps (for example Anne Patchett, Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott), it's no wonder I loved the book. The best bits, and the point of the book, is how she used her mother's large plot of land just north of Seattle to ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Faith rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015, memoir
I haven't read many memoirs but I really enjoyed this one! I think about my own life and I wonder how on earth I would write it and make it worthwhile reading for anyone else. My life is dull! But it is in that very dullness that magnificent things can shine through, especially if you are open and honest about your story. This author caught all of that and more. She drew vivid pictures of herself and those around her. She showed the flaws in herself, not just in those around her. There was no ...more
Lucinda Barton
Feb 25, 2015 Lucinda Barton rated it really liked it
I received this book through Netgalley to review.
The garden is the perfect place to gentle potter about and dwell on current relationships and problems and past niggles. Very well written, it is poetic and very expressive in its descriptions and thoughts. It teaches that like a garden riddled with weeds and problems a dysfunctional family can be slowly turned through love and hard work into a blossom functioning garden that can be shared.

There is a true delight in her description and words when
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Tara Austen Weaver writes about the big, wide world: food, travel, culture, the environment, art, and adventure in its many guises. A Northern California native, she has lived in five countries on three continents and is happiest either exploring with a notebook and camera, or spending the day in a kitchen learning how people feed themselves (the best stories always get told in the kitchen). Tara ...more
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