garden in the sky…

when i met her i didn’t put the name with the memory…she was simply a sweet hiring manager i worked with a year ago or so who liked my truffles, so much in fact she called herself my ‘truffle taste tester’…i found out she’d been dealing with ovarian cancer for a number of years but there she was, working for the feds…and then it all clicked when she was talking about her garden, she was THE dulcy mahar, who’d been writing the quirkiest, simplest, sweetest gardening column in my newspaper since i was in high school.  she was a damn legend!  such is life, i had no idea she was a rockstar in the gardening world – like she’d ever want to be called that, haha.  but the other day i was thinking of her randomly, and like that went on to other thoughts.  today my friend sent me a text message to see if i had already heard of her passing…being that i don’t get the paper and hadn’t checked online for a while, this was how i found out, and was so saddened to hear of her loss.  but you know what? while i shed tears, i smiled at the memory of her. she left this world beautifully, quietly, exactly as she wanted to.  below is the article (one of many – there are at least 12 tributes that followed in the paper along with one from her dear husband) so you can see this wonderful lady.


In Oregon’s gardening community “Dulcy” needed no last name.

Fans called Dulcy Mahar, The Oregonian’s much beloved long-time columnist, the rock star of gardening.

Tours of her garden in Portland’s Garthwick neighborhood always drew crowds, fans flocked to see her at shows, her column in the newspaper’s Homes & Gardens of the Northwest was often cited as the favorite part of the section.

When fans read in June that the cancer Dulcy was diagnosed with eight years ago was forcing her to retire from writing her column, the letters and emails poured in.

“I am most grateful for Dulcy’s ability to make me feel confident in my decisions, dislikes, failures, visions and, most of all, my love for gardening,” wrote reader Barbara Ann Alexander.  “She has to have one of the most beautiful souls ever.”

Mahar died Saturday, July 2, 2011, at age 69.

“It’s a beautiful day for gardening,” said features editor JoLene Krawczak, who was the first editor of Homes & Gardens of the Northwest. “She would have liked that.”

Even more she would have loved that her husband of 48 years, Ted Mahar, was holding her hand, and cuddled around her were their dog, Ernie Pie, and cats, Wilbur and Orville. “Little Dulcy Ann Marie Moran, age 6, could have fantasized for no more sentimental and vivid Rockwellian image,” Ted Mahar said.

She  was born Nov. 10, 1941, in Stockton, Calif., to John and Genevieve Moran, and spent her early childhood on a cattle ranch in the San Joaquin Valley.  She graduated from Pittsburg High School  in California,  where she started her lifelong career in writing and editing on the high school newspaper.

As a student in the journalism department at the University of Oregon, Mahar wrote for the award-winning student newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald; there she met Ted, who became a longtime writer for The Oregonian. After writing jobs at Meier & Frank, U.S. Bank and the Oregon Education Association, she was recruited in 1980 by the Northwest Power Planning Council, moving to theBonneville Power Administration in 1991, where she worked up until her death.

But what Mahar was best-known for was the garden column she wrote for The Oregonian for 22 years, never missing a week, not even after being diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer in 2003.

Her self-deprecating humor and willingness to admit her failures and foibles won her fans from Portland to Pensacola, all of whom felt as if she was a personal friend.

“Your delightful tales of the dog and the cats and the slugs and Doug the Wonder Guy and your husband and the plants are wonderful — real and true and funny and humble and wise,” wrote Mia Pisano Yang of Southeast Portland. “Thanks for being a friend I never met.”


Recent Posts

See All