Go down any main street in Israel and you are bound see at least one shrub or tree that is not indigenous to Israel and is an immigrant from Australia. During the last twenty years, Hannah and Les Wende have successfully introduced between three to four hundred new plants and trees from Australia to Israel.

Their story really started when their son David came to Israel on a Habonim program. Les and Hannah already had a nursery in Australia and Les gave David the Geraldton Wax Flower (named after the Australian town of Geraldton) to take to a friend in the Israel Department of Agriculture whose expertise was in the field of propagation, and this developed into an extensive export trade of Geraldton Wax Flowers from Israel to Europe. These perennial shrubs, that are drought tolerant and flower all through the winter, were the forerunners of Israel’s flourishing flower export market.

On making aliyah in l979 with five of their six children, after a six-week safari in South Africa, the Wendes bought land in Ein Vered where they developed Wende’s Nursery. One year after making aliyah, they began to organize the import of plants from their nursery in Australia to Israel. In those days they had free access to the quarantine station in the Volcani Institute in Beit Dagan and everything was planted on a trial basis in Havat Hanoy near Ruppin. Now twenty years later, these are the plants one can see along Israel’s highways. Eventually the Department of Agriculture allowed Hannah and Les to build a quarantine station on their own land, but after the quarantine station fell into disrepair many years later, they stopped importing plants. Now plants introduced into Israel by the Wendes can be found all over the country. Hannah’s dream is to travel around the country to photograph and document all the plants introduced by them to Israel. Her love of all things growing is evident in her extensive knowledge about the care, maintenance and nourishment of plants and she has given numerous lectures on the subject.

In 1996 Hannah and Les retired, handing over the running of Wende’s Nursery to their son, Vaun. In 2003 they moved to Protea Village, but the “growing” business was obviously in their blood and Les and Hannah built a small nursery behind the house they still own in Ein Vered. The nursery focuses on unusual plants which require a minimum amount of water or are suitable for growing in tubs. The nursery is unique, it is run purely for charity and all the proceeds are donated to Esra for its projects. As it is staffed by volunteers, the maintenance costs are very low, all pots are recycled and plants are propagated in the nursery. In order to minimize expenses, there is no advertising. Recommendations are by word of mouth. Hannah is happiest when she is discussing plants, and gives advice on the care of any of her plants and gardening questions are always welcome.

The nursery is open on Sunday and Monday from 8.00am to 4.30pm.

Telephone: 052 306 4113.

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Friedhelm Flick
Hallo-hello, very nice to read this article. Once (in 1988) i have been working than a gardener-volonteer in the greenhouses of Les

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Miriam Van Bers

Miriam van Bers was born in Vienna soon after the Anschluss in 1938.  Fortunately, when she was a few weeks old, her parents managed to flee to England. Miriam grew up in England, but, in her ...

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