Synopses & Reviews
When Dulcy Mahar died of ovarian cancer in July 2011, devoted readers begged for her popular garden columns to be reprinted in the paper. Through Dulcy's editor Peggy McMullen, they urged her husband Ted, to write a book. In Back in the Garden with Dulcy
(Carpe Diem Books; $22.95; On-sale date: November 15, 2013), Ted Mahar has written a memoir of his enduringly happy marriage to Dulcy surrounded by their beloved cats and dogs. He has also selected more than 140 of Dulcy's most popular and requested columns. This special volume is illustrated with 140 photographs, many of them in color, from Dulcy's beautiful and ever-changing Garthwick garden. Peggy McMullen has written the book's Foreword.
How did Dulcy Mahar become a rock star of the Northwest gardening community? By writing a column that didn't preach slavish imitation to your next-door neighbor's immaculately mowed lawn and trimmed hedges. Dulcy used humor and charm as she shared her weekly triumphs and humiliating mistakes, always reassuring her readers that it was okay. "As a gardener, I learn by trial and error, and error, and error," she blithely confessed. Informative, entertaining, and beautifully written, Dulcy's more than 1100 columns over twenty-two years proved to her readers there was adventure and beauty to be found in their own backyards.
Remarkably Dulcy had little experience as a gardener. But moving to a big house with an ample but mostly grassy back yard in Southeast Portland's leafy Garthwick area gave Dulcy the inspirational blank canvas she had been looking for. As her own garden took shape, and changed, her confidence and vision expanded. She researched, wrote and often photographed her weekly columns while working full-time. Back in the Garden with Dulcy shares the years Dulcy (mostly with the help of "Doug the Wonder Boy" — her garden partner) spent creating walking paths, sitting areas, vegetable and rose beds, and more. Doug has also provided a Preface for the book. Dulcy always shared her discoveries with her readers who thought of her as "the best friend I never met." Dulcy became famous through her widely read columns. The Oregonian still regularly reprints them.
Dulcy created an informally formal garden, which was enhanced with beautiful sculpture, and artisanal ornaments she collected through the years. She also loved gnomes and pink flamingos — proof positive of humor she found to enhance what nature provided. The garden enticed visitors and the Mahars frequently opened their sylvan retreat for fundraising events.
Dulcy's devotion to gardening informed her many columns. Through her observant eye, she gently revealed many of its joys, secrets and rewards. Back in the Garden with Dulcy is a beautiful volume that reminds us of all the many pleasures we can derive from tending our gardens.
About the Author
Ted Mahar was a film and television writer and critic at The Oregonian for nearly four decades. This is his first book.