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Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening

A surprising friendship blossoms between two people with supposedly very little in common.



Carol Wall was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown, she had successfully overcome an earlier illness, and her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skin man working in her neighbors yard. The yard was gorgeous, while hers was well beyond “rough around the edges.” It wasn’t the worst yard in the neighborhood but it was quickly moving in that direction. She wanted to hire this gentleman to work on her yard. His name was Giles Owita, and he had immigrated from Kenya. The book is about the relationship that develops between Carol and Mr. Owita. It is about the changes in both their lives and about how they helped each other overcome some difficult battles.

“I never liked getting my hands dirty. This was one reason that our yard looks so sad but there were other reasons, too— bigger reasons that were much harder to confront than brutal grass and overgrown bushes.”


My favorite part of this charming story was the silent war over Carol’s three azela bushes. She detested them and wanted them yanked out...Mr. Owita thought them beautiful, and merely fertilized and trimmed them. And so their relationship began. She was furious, he would not do what she wanted with the blasted azaleas, she wanted to be in control. Mr. Owita was a soft-spoken, humble horticulturist with a huge smile for everyone. He was full of wisdom about plants and about the difficulties of life. A unique and enjoyable part of the book were the letters that Mr. Owita and Carol exchanged with each other. Each letter from Mr Owita further conveyed his wisdom and bright attitude. They were a joy to read. The story written by CAROL WALL was part memoir and part tribute. The writing was charming, heartfelt and thought-provoking. It increased my awareness of the importance of treating all those around you with respect and dignity. You never know what someone else is going through.

Publisher Berkley Books

Published February 3, 2015

“It’s seem to me like too many people spend too much of their time taking care of their houses instead of enjoying their spouses. And where was the fun in that?
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