A serendipitous, fender-bending encounter between the author, a distinguished landscape architect, and a wealthy Frenchman in Provence leads to the strangest, funniest horticultural odyssey in recent memory. The rich, eccentric Frenchman has just finished renovating, with great care and attention, a beautiful house in Provence. But the elegant courtyard looks very empty. “Find me the oldest olive tree in existence,” he challenges the author, “and bring it back to take pride of place in my garden.”
The author’s travels take him to the olive groves of France, the farms of Greece and Spain, and many backyards of Italy. Along the way, he encounters a 3,000-year-old tree, a farmer who won’t sell his tree unless he can sell the farm that surrounds it, mafiosi skullduggery in the plant world, unscrupulous dealers, divided families, local weddings, farcical disasters, and a village that believes a drop of rain that has touched the leaves of the Angel Tree will cure any illness or sadness.