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      Annie Liontas 9781476789088

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1 Beaverton Gardening- Writing
1 Home & Garden Gardening- Writing

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart


Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart Cover




I never liked getting my hands dirty. This was one reason that
our yard looked so sad. But there were other reasons, too—
bigger reasons that were much harder to confront than brittle
grass and overgrown bushes.
Its not that I was ignoring our yard on purpose. Every once
in a while we hired someone to plant or trim something. My
husband, Dick, did his share of mowing. But he never did it happily.
We werent yard-proud the way some people are. And when
the kids were young, there was always something more important
than yard work to do. Going to one of their games or events,
running them to school and lessons, or shepherding them to
doctor appointments—all those things ranked way higher on
our list of priorities.
Once the kids were grown, I still managed to find more important
things to do. I much preferred reading a book, or watching
a documentary on TV, or going out to dinner with Dick
to pruning a bush. I loved our house, and I enjoyed decorating
the inside, but there was never anything about maintaining a
house that I enjoyed. In some couples, one spouse makes up for
the flaws of the other. But for better or worse, my beloved
spouse and I shared the same flaw in this department. Neither
of us was handy. We ignored our loose front doorknob until it
went from shaky to wobbly and finally fell off when we tried to
exit the house one evening. Dick watched it fall to the hardwood
floor with a thunk, then looked at me and said, “Time to move.”
I dont think we were entirely wrong in holding on to our
low-intervention policy. Once when Dick and I were walking
through town, we were stopped by a group of young women
who were celebrating their friends upcoming wedding. They
were asking all the obviously married women they saw for advice
for the new bride. I said, “You know, my life really began
when I got married.” They all laughed and told me that I was the
first woman theyd stopped who hadnt said, “Dont do it.” Then
I told them that my best advice was not to approach marriage
like it was an arrangement between property co-owners. It
seemed to me like too many people spent too much of their time
taking care of their houses instead of enjoying their spouses.
And where was the fun in that?
I liked to think that it was a valid philosophy of life that kept
me out of the yard, and not just sheer laziness. In any case, to
me, even worse than digging out a screwdriver to fix our doorknob
would have been digging in the dirt. I had zero interest in
that area of our property. I dont think I even really looked at it.
Then one day, I noticed that our yard had slowly, gradually
transformed itself. No longer could I flatter myself that it was
natural and unmanicured because that was the aesthetic I preferred.
No, our yard wasnt just rough around the edges. It had
become a genuine embarrassment. Maybe we didnt have the
worst yard on the block. But we were close to it, and one good
mowing in our most neglectful neighbors yard might easily
nudge us into the bottom slot. And that just wouldnt do. I
might never have been yard-proud, but I did not want to be
So I decided that it was time to do something about this situation.
It was a fixable problem, after all—and how nice it was to
have one of those.
When I passed our neighbor Sarahs yard I couldnt help seeing
what an amazing job her gardener had done. Sarah was a
master gardener herself, but recently shed gotten busy at work
and had brought in some help. And even I could tell that a true
artist was at work there. Maybe I could hire her gardener, I
thought to myself. And then our yard would be as beautiful as
hers. It would be healthy and lush and well taken care of—
just the way I wanted to be myself.
A few days later I saw the mystery gardener in the flesh—
the artist whod wrought such a miracle transformation in my neighbors
yard—and it was kismet. Love at first sight. No, it wasnt
the kind of love that causes you to question your marriage. It
was the kind of love that causes you to question yourself. The
kind that makes you want to be a better person. The kind that
changes your life completely.
His name was Giles Owita, and from the start, something
flowered between us and around us. First he became my gardener,
and then he became my friend. And while I knew from
the moment I met him that he was someone special—
truly, I didnt know the half of it.

Product Details

Wall, Carol
G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
readers guide inside
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Cooking and Food » General
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Home and Garden » Gardening » General
Home and Garden » Gardening » Writing

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group - English 9780399157981 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this moving memoir chronicling the many lasting rewards garnered from an unexpected friendship, writer Wall enlists a neighbor's gardener, a man from Kenya, to help her maintain her garden. What begins as a purely professional relationship, with Wall hoping to learn more about gardening, blossoms into an intimate friendship. Wall, a breast cancer patient, admits that, before she met Giles Owita, her outlook on life was less than sunny. Always an introvert and prone to social gaffes, Wall was dealing at the time with her parent's decline. Slowly, over three years, Owita, a quiet and unassuming man, transforms Wall's unkempt lawn into a living masterpiece, showing Wall the beauty inherent in everyday life. While transmitting the knowledge for growing a bountiful garden, Owita passes along how one might live a satisfying life. 'Each time I walked away from Giles, I felt either enlightened by his brilliance or unburdened of some of my worries and sadness.' Wall eventually learns of the personal, family and health issues endured by her friend, marveling at his grace and strength. This tender narrative gently probes the complicated terrain of American race relations, dealing with serious illness and facing the death of loved ones. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff Literary." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
A true story of a unique friendship between two people who had nothing—and ultimately everything—in common.

Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had successfully overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbors yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And hes very good at gardening.


Before long Giles is transforming not only Carols yard, but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.

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