Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #248

Back in the garden with Dulcy : the best of The Oregonian garden writer Dulcy Mahar by Ted Mahar, 2013

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2014-10-01

Back in the Garden with Dulcy cover

A book that took me totally by surprise is “Back in the Garden with Dulcy”, a selection of articles by Dulcy Mahar, who for 22 years wrote a gardening column for The Oregonian in Portland. Clearly, I haven’t been paying enough attention to gardening south of the Columbia!

Sadly, Dulcy died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer, but she continued writing up to a few weeks before her death. Fortunately her husband, Ted Mahar, has edited and published a selection of her writings. I am completely charmed by the results.

While Ted is understandably also a fan, I heartedly agree with him when he describes her columns as “…filled with solid advice, warnings, lists, ideas and experiments worth trying, the latest trends, yearnings for a change of season, and more. Whatever the subject, Dulcy’s wit glowed through. Pick a week, and you’d likely find a quotable quote.”

I would add that she had a knack of reaching out to young or inexperienced gardeners, putting them at ease, urging them not to be afraid to just go for it. She also had a love of animals, especially her cats (although one lucky dog, Hector, gets a lot of press, too). One of her Wagnerian felines is posed with her on the front cover, “helping” in the garden.

An example of her advice: “Make a list so that you can get exactly what you need when you hit the nurseries and plant sales. Oh, I could hardly say that with a straight face. I am practically rolling on the floor, and the cats and Hector the dog are looking askance. Of course, it is excellent advice. But can I follow that advice? Hardly.”

Excerpted from the Fall 2014 Arboretum Bulletin.

Keywords: Rhododendron, Reviews

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