Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Bittersweet day in the garden

Last Saturday was gorgeous! I was able to spend a good part of it puttering around the garden, doing nothing other than watering and trimming dead leaves and flowers, in other words just enjoying it.

Lila’s preoccupation with something in the corner of the back garden made me aware that the Dracunculus vulgaris (Dragon Lily) was blooming. Poor dog couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from…the flies in the vicinity had no problem though. Out in the front garden I discovered a Hesperaloe getting ready to bloom. This will be only the second time I’ve seen this particular plant with a flower; the first was when I bought it back in 2008. I’m a sucker for blooming Hesperaloes! Shortly after that last happy discovery I went in to the house to get a bit of lunch. That’s when I read the news that Dulcy Mahar had died earlier that morning. For those of you not familiar with Dulcy she’s been a regular columnist in the Home & Gardens section of the local newspaper for years, more years than I’ve lived in Portland, heck for more years than I’ve had a garden (she started in 1997). Dulcy’s writing style made you feel like you knew her, as though she was your gardening neighbor.

When we first moved to Portland I was without a garden (we rented a house for a year). Reading Dulcy’s column was the next best thing for me; I gardened vicariously through her, and along the way managed to learn quite a bit about gardening in my new city.

Dulcy had been battling ovarian cancer for several years, yet she still managed to write her column, every week. Perhaps, like gardening, it was one of the things that kept her fighting. I never made it to see her garden, she frequently opened it for tours, I wish I would have.

Back outside in the garden I noticed way deep down in the center of the Eucomis Oakhurst the very beginnings of what will become tall pineapple-ish flower spikes. They took last year off from blooming, I’m glad to have them back. I’ll be thinking of Dulcy when they bloom.


  1. Thanks for writing so sweetly about Dulcy. She and I were roommates at U of O. I'll write a post about her too.

  2. So sorry to hear about Dulcy. When we were in Portland, reading her column was always a highlight of the week.

    Once she wrote about being at Great Dixter, Christopher Lloyd's famous garden. The Great Man found Dulcy's little group and was giving them the grand tour -- until he found out that they were not the paying guests he was expecting! He vanished on the spot! :)

  3. What a loss to your garden community. I'm so glad you posted so I can read through her articles. Let's hope your newspaper keeps up Dulcy's tradition of fine garden writing.

  4. Oh ricki what fun stories you must have of your times at U of O! I hope you two were able to keep in touch over the years. I look forward to reading your post.

    Patricia, that story is very Dulcy! "Highlight" is exactly how I felt about her column. Of course the Thursday paper was always the best (now the H&G section has moved to Saturdays) and I'd save her column for last.

    Denise, I hope you are able to enjoy some of her columns online. I imagine a little bit will be lost in translation since her stories usually involved names she assumed you knew. It was kind of like reading a note from a friend catching you up on the latest garden gossip.

  5. I am so sad to read this news, Loree, but grateful that you posted it along with your warm feelings about her. I agree! She was playful, yet made so much sense to those of us who needed to hear the lessons she taught. I had the pleasure of visiting her garden a few years ago. It was, just as she was, beautiful, delightful and quirky!

  6. Yes, Dulcy was amazing in gardening and in spirit. I did not know her personally but felt I could relate to her on multiple levels through her columns. When I lived in Portland I too always read her column and that was about the only thing in the paper I would consistently make time to read.

    My good friend toured her garden and said it was amazing. I can only imagine! She will truly be missed by many!


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