Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Garden Report #4

• A thank you to all of the readers of this blog and for all of the positive comments from last week’s report. Twenty-two of you took the time to respond, offer up opinions, share tips and ask questions. There was a response from Marcus Fernando who lives in Croatia, Jimmy Gibbs shared his block party approach to tree banding in the Woolsey area of Winnipeg and Lyn Goldman is concerned there could be a cat hater lose in the neighborhood. Candace Holmstrom wrote in to say that the blog makes her feel connected to the community, which is one of the nicest compliments she could write.

• On Thursday evening, I experienced the worst hail of my gardening career. Hail is an isolated event and I know that some of my friends as little as six blocks away, were not affected. Ron Labatt who lives a few kilometers south of the city, said he watched the storm as it dropped its pellets of ice over the city, but he barely got any moisture at all. The hail sliced up many of my wider leafed plants and it flattened baskets, pots and groundcovers alike. One of Maureen’s favorite plants is the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ pink peony. The blooms took a real beating. As it was hailing, all I could think about was how many times this spring I took my plants into the garage to protect them from the cold. In retrospect, I should have fed them to the ‘Gods of Frost’ rather than saving them for the wrath of hail.

• Having written the above, who was out in his garden, replacing damaged plants and cutting back salvageable ones today? Gardeners are true optimists as pessimists would give up. It will take at least two to three weeks to get my garden back to ‘show garden’ quality.

• Blooming this week: I saw some lovely Abbotswood White Potentilla which are about two to three feet high and will bloom well into October. Also, spireas are now in their glory and looking good. The peonies that were not hit by hail are looking very lovely. Saw some very unusual ones on Edinburgh Drive . I had my first two strawberries of the season this afternoon and I am anticipating more. I share them with the robins.

• I wrote last week that I absolutely adore food with intense flavors. Twenty years ago, there was almost a cult following of the Hot and Sour Soup that was being served at Tan Hoa on Dewdney Avenue. The soup was so popular that my friend Han deJong, who lives in Vancouver, would get off the plane and ask to be driven right away to the restaurant for ‘his fix’. Tan Hoa faded away after some problems with The RCMP’s Drug Squad. Recently, I have been getting my Hot and Sour high at Dong Khahn near Albert and 12th. It tastes the same as the Tan Hoa recipe and has all of the intense flavors. To those who have never ordered this product before, be forewarned: when it arrives at your table, it will appear as if it is the byproduct of the garburator. Close your eyes and enjoy the soup.

• Garden Tip: This is a repeat one. With all of this rain, there is an increase of iron chlorosis in many plants. The main symptom is premature yellowing and the veins on the leaves being accentuated. The treatment is to reduce the water and add in Iron Chelate which is a product of Plant Prod.

• Another Garden Tip: I have had three inquiries from Lakeview residents about the noxious weed with the purple flowers on it that has dominated the gardens this year. First of all, let me assure you that I used to know the name of the weed but I have forgotten it. Secondly, I phoned my friend at The Department of Agriculture to ask him what the name is, but he wasn’t’ in. I forgot to call him back. Here is what I do know. This weed is very difficult to control, so it is best to get a quick start on dealing with it. It is Round Up susceptible so if you are going that route, exercise caution. The best way to apply the Round Up is to put on a rubber glove and dip your thumb and forefinger into the solution and then stroke the broadest part of the leaf. Do not get Round Up on any plant you wish to keep.

• Do you want a link with history? My long time friend, Michel Touchette of Jeffries’ Nurseries in Portage, sent in this offer for the blog readers. There are several new roses being released in 2013 from The Canadian Artist Series. Emily Carr is one that has already been released. If you want to suggest a name for a new rose, and the name must be of a known Canadian artist, then forward your suggestion to No money, no fame. Just bragging rights.

• True story on bragging rights: Dr. Henry Marshall, the famous rose breeder told me this one. He was in the backwoods of Manitoba and his radiator overheated. He pulled into a farm yard and asked the farm wife for some water. She directed him to the hose bib around the corner of the house. While getting the water, Henry noticed a ‘Cuthbert Grant’ rose growing. He asked the farm wife how she enjoyed the plant. She said it was her favorite. He told her with great pride, “you know, I am the man who developed that rose?” She looked at Henry who was up in years by this time, and responded “sure you did ‘dearie’, sure you did.”

• I have often written in my trade journal columns that the word free is the most powerful word in the English language. That one word makes people stop and read. So does the word sex, so just imagine the readership one would get by using the heading free sex. Regardless, I have some free plants to give away to my readers. I have four pots of day neutral strawberries. There are five plants in each pot. I have four pots of day lilies and there are a few plants in each pot. I dug them up to make room for more tomatoes. They are very healthy plants. I will leave them on my front steps and I ask that you take only one pot and leave the rest for other gardeners. That is good karma. Please do not ring the bell, as I never know when I will be asleep. The plants are all in used hanging baskets. This offer is not open to our readers in Croatia.

• True story about free plants: My friend Pete Barry, who has long ago passed away, told me this one. Pete loved to garden and he started many of his plants in his little greenhouse on Garnet Street. One year, Pete had plants leftover so being a good neighbor, he gave people on the block a few plants. One woman got marigolds, one got tomatoes and so on. The next spring, Pete’s phone starts ringing and it is the neighbors calling. “Last year you gave me yellow marigolds and I really could have used orange.” Another called and told him that she wanted ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes not ‘Tiny Tim’s’. And so on. They were placing orders with him! Pete never gave them plants again. Almost a ‘Henny Penny’ story.

• Strange but true, free plants again: The PFRA had an open house. They asked me to donate a door prize. Something Saskatchewan. So I donated a ‘Thunderchild’ Flowering Crabapple, developed in Saskatoon. It was worth fifty bucks. They had a draw. They told the winner to pick up his tree from Lakeview. The codger shows up and demands a cherry tree. He doesn’t need nor does he want a crab. I told him this was the free prize and he told me that I had to give him a cherry tree or “I don’t want anything at all.” Well, I have always believe in accommodating special requests, so I told him he could have nothing at all and I showed him the gate. His wife came back that afternoon for the tree, and apologized for her husband’s behavior.

• Okay, one Murphy story, but only because he is so cute. I had three lovely pots filled with pansies on my back steps. The hail flattened them. They are now residing in an obscure part of the garden, hopefully recovering. I moved into their place, three lovely pots that had been sitting on top of our outdoor fireplace. The three new pots have ornamental grasses in them. Murphy has been eating them this afternoon as I write the blog. Now he is gagging and throwing up as only a cat can do. I tell him “don’t eat the grass plants, they will make you sick”, but does he listen?

• Number three son tells me to buy a birthday present for his mother. I ask why do I have to pay for the gift as he is now thirty and makes good money. His response is that he is saving his money so that we can have grandchildren. I had no idea money was involved. I always thought having children was a result of fooling around with your wife. He’s right. I don’t know anything.

• Lots of photos this week. The two shots of the Little Leaf Lilac are courtesy of Heather Lowe and the shot of Ross and I at the ranch was taken by Ingrid Thiessen. The others were taken by Maureen and are of flowers in our yard.

• Happy Gardening…Rod

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