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 neighbor's yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he's very good at gardening.
Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol's 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.
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.
It's 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 weren't 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 appointmentsall 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 ...
Gardening in its many forms requires patience. Carol Wall's garden doesn't transform into a colorful, blossoming maze of delightful flowers and trees overnight. Under Giles Owita's tutelage, we learn along with her that what we need most in our lives might not come right away. But when it eventually does, it gives us our just rewards.
(Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).
Full Review (994 words).
If you've always been wowed by azaleas, which feature in Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening, here are some fun facts.
Azaleas, members of the genus Rhodondendron, can be found all around the world. There are deciduous azaleas with origins in North America; evergreen varieties from Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan, and a whole host of hybrid crosses from some of these same countries. The Royal Horticultural Society, based in London, has an International Rhododendron Registry that lists over 800 species of azaleas.
There are 17 azaleas native to North America. R. vaseyi (the R stands for Rhododendron), which has pink to white flowers, can be found mostly in four mountainous North Carolina counties. R. canadense was described by ...
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