Henry Shakenovsky on his bridge over untroubled waters in his Ramat Hasharon garden
Story and photos by Lynette Karp
Henry Shakenovsky is not only a distinguished man of the law; he is also a talented man of the soil. At his beautiful home in Ramat Hasharon which he shares with his wife, Ruth, his passion for gardening is there for all to see. With only a small area to play with, he found the challenge for designing and creating his concept of a garden irresistible. An outdoor wall had to be demolished to allow access for trucks bringing in the soil that he needed to sculpt an interesting landscape for his ideas. The wall was later rebuilt. An attractive water feature was installed, feeding tranquility into a picturesque stone fish pond which is home to a few large koi fish. The pond is an integral part of the magic of this little garden.
Henry takes pleasure in remodeling his garden by transplanting shrubs and seedlings to give the best color combinations. A wonderful plum-colored prunus forms a backdrop for tricolored ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ shrub which is a breathtaking feature in the spring. There is a wooden bridge to linger on and paths to meander along, which guide you to hidden corners to explore. One small area has a garden bench at the end of a path, offering a corner for meditation, contemplation, or simply for relaxing. No doubt butterflies and exotic birds are drawn to the garden as the seasons evolve.
Wife Ruth has a gardening corner of her own where her herbs flourish in troughs moistened by water from the air conditioner. Henry says that Ruth is his most stern critic whose opinion he welcomes. A man of enviable intellect, Henry, a colorful raconteur, was brought up in Vrede, a small Free State village in South Africa. Educated in Afrikaans, he is also fluent in English and Yiddish. He attended an Afrikaans university college in Bloemfontein, and then went on to Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, and the University of South Africa.
A koi swims in the stone fish pond
Later he was admitted as an advocate to the Bar in Johannesburg, ultimately becoming a Senior Counsel. He was elevated to Acting Judge in the High Court of South Africa. He retired from the bench in 2004. However, he continued to serve as a part-time Judge for another 10 years, commuting between South Africa and Israel.
The pull of Israel brought him, his wife and their four children on their first aliyah in 1970, but they returned to South Africa after nine months. However, the appeal of Israel never ceased, resulting in repeated commuting over the following years, living for various periods in Israel where Henry qualified and was admitted to the Israeli Bar.
As for gardening, Henry says he finds his hobby relaxing, fulfilling 'and rewarding. He says the physical labor involved provides an excellent form of exercise for his body, mind and imagination. I find my garden and all its challenges a source of inspiration, and one which creates peace of mind and tranquility, nourishing the soul. So constructive an activity in my golden age", he says.
Henry and Ruth’s beautiful garden certainly adds much pleasure, beauty and fulfillment to their lives – and garners appreciation from friends who are welcomed to enjoy it with them.