Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Garden Report #17

September 25th, 2010

• The Garden Report is being released a day early this week to remind you that The Kidney Foundation Walk is on Sunday, September 26th. It is in front of The Legislature in Wascana Park and registration starts at 11:30 a.m. The walk itself is at 1:00 p.m. Registration costs you $35 and you are welcome to donate if you want or just support the event by walking. The walk is organized both as a fundraiser and to bring awareness of the need for organ donors. Sign those cards. I hope to see several of you there. So far, thanks to you, I have raised $2300 for the walk.

For Boxing Fans: I love boxing. Have since I was six years old. There are boxing matches in our city but most people don’t know about them. They are not well advertised. If you do have an interest in Olympic Style Boxing (head gear, more safety rules), there are matches tonight (Saturday the 25th) at The Lonsdale Boxing Club on Dewdney Avenue, starting at seven p.m. I’ll be there.

Hog Heaven: Ever since I was I eighteen years old, I have fantasized that I would be the only male in a room filled with nurses. I love nurses. Always have. All types. This past Monday, the fantasy came true. Maureen’s nursing class from The General Hospital held their reunion and the social was at our house. Yes! Thank you God! Forty nurses and me…but none were wearing miniskirts and no one had on their white uniform and cap. Talk about a letdown. All they wanted to talk about was the garden and did I have any advice for them. I on the other hand, kept wanting to show them my ouwies, and no, that is not a metaphor. They say the anticipation often exceeds the actual event and whoever ‘they’ are, they are right.

Writers read: Did you know that this blog is read by many writers and others from the fine arts community, which I take as a compliment. Who is a writer or artist? Alan Bratt, Gail Bowen, Cheryl Hutton, Gail Aubin, Alex Eddington, Kevin Blevins, Beth McLean, Bobbi Jo Cook, Don List, Candace Holmstrom, Colette Nichol, Courtney Sebring, Courtney Cunningham, Rachel Elie, Daniel Jackson, Danielle Mario, Colette Kendall, Ed Heidt, Susan Freedman, Greg Morley, Jodi Sadowsky, Jean Freeman, John Huston, June Mayhew, Kirsten Von Ritzen, Ken Mitchell, Lyn Goldman, Laura Harris, Daryl Peterson, Marcus Fernando, Marsha Kennedy, Margaret Hryniuk, Patty Softly, Rita Deverell, Rex Deverell, Robin Poitras, Russ Bennett, Sarah Wills, Marla V.. Did I leave anyone out? If so, let me know and I will include an addendum. Writers, please note the fancy word.

Garden Tip: With all of the rain we have been having, many people have not been able to mow their lawns. It is a bad idea to let your lawn go into winter too tall as it will mat, and that can produce mold. On a five setting lawn mower, the best setting is usually the number three or four.

Garden Tip: Is it a good time to plant in the fall? Common question. For many years, there was a debate as to whether spring or fall planting was the best time and what should you plant in the autumn. Not anymore. Most plants that you buy today have been container grown. It does not really matter when you plant as in spring, summer or fall. Fall planted trees and shrubs go into a winter dormancy as do your other trees. They sit there all winter, waiting to take off the following spring.

Garden Tip: I prefer to move established plants in the spring rather than the fall. Having written that, I have moved many spruce trees in the fall with great success. The secret is in getting a large enough root ball. I do not move pine trees in the fall as they do not enjoy the process. If you don’t know the difference between spruce and pine, you better find out before you move them.

Garden Tip: How late in the fall can I lay sod? I have installed sod as the snow is falling. I have never lost a lawn from installing it too late into the season so if you are planning to do it, go right ahead. It will take off in the spring.

Garden Tip: If you grew begonias from a bulb, best to let the begonia get a light frost on the upper part. Then lift the bulb out of the pot or garden, shake off the dirt and let it dry out in the sun for a day or two. Then store the bulb in a brown paper bag (never a plastic one) filled with peat moss. Keep them in a cool place until next March when you can start them again. You can also save your calla and canna roots this way as well as gladioli. There used to be glads growing in gardens all over the city but they seem to have fallen out of favor in the last twenty years, which is a shame. They are such a wonderful summer flower.

Garden Tip: Plants come and go in style. In the 1980’s, I could sell thirty peonies in a year. Ten red, ten pink and ten white. I was lucky to get ten bucks for them. By the turn of the century, gardeners were buying different types of peonies, and by the hundreds. We were selling several rare varieties than were priced between fifty and one hundred and fifty dollars. A friend of mine who had a very strong Chinese clientele at his Vancouver garden center, sold many rare peonies for over two hundred dollars each. In Chinese culture, the peony is revered.

Garden Tip: Still on the plant as fashion statement. In the 1980’s evergreens sold in the thousands in this city. Junipers, cedars, pines and spruce. Many yards were filled only with evergreens. I had difficulty getting people to even look at sprieas, potentillas, dogwoods or any of the other deciduous choices. That seems to have balanced out and now people are interested in a wider variety of plant choices for their garden.

• When Trivial Pursuit was first released on the market, my mother gave me a game as a Christmas present. I thanked her and told her how surprised I was that she had chosen it. Her response was “I never knew a child who retained more useless information that you, so I thought it was a perfect gift.” Now, was that a compliment?

Best pie: I have mentioned before that Sharon Wallace is the finest of pie makers. She often sells her pies at The Farmer’s Market. Your two best choices are her Pear and Ginger pie and her Country Apple. Pear and Ginger has a nice kick to it and Country Apple is local crabs and apples. Thanksgiving is coming up and she bakes a lovely pumpkin pie which will grace our table. Has everyone figured out that I really like pie? Reader Roberta Nichol often mentions that she is an excellent pie maker, but I have no firsthand knowledge of this skill. She has never brought me a pie to taste.

Birthdays this week: Who turned 59 on the 23rd this week? Did you send him a gift? A really expensive gift. No? Well there is still time. This is me being subtle.

Black mail: Anyone who went to school with me and does not send me a gift, be forewarned. If your parents are still alive, I will tell them about the time you skipped third period and got caught smoking behind the gym. This is me not being subtle.

Restaurant Time: Many of you have written in about how wonderful The Creek on 13th is to eat at. Well, I finally made it there for my birthday supper…and the power went out. The chef couldn’t see to cook so we had to find another place. I have been hearing good things about the food at Bushwhacker’s on Dewdney. We gave it a try. I really enjoy fish and chips a few times a year and I have been told that theirs were good. On the plus side, they use cod which is much preferred to basa or Pollock. Cod is a much ‘meatier’ fish. The portion was more than generous as I only got through two/thirds of it. On the not so plus side, the fish was a little soggy, not as crisp as I would have preferred and the chips, while very good, had double the amount of seasoning salt that was needed. I suppose if they extra salt the chips, they will sell more beer. Maureen had a Mediterranean pizza which was tasty. Number Two Son and Number One Cousin both had the taco salad. One had the chicken and the other had the beef. Both said they were pleased. Lots of black olives and hot peppers. Max and I shared a coconut cheesecake and it was okay, but not great. Calories in Saskatoon sets the standard for cheesecake. The ladies shared a Chocolate Soldier which was a crepe with ice cream and cherries. They raved about it. I tried a glass of their home brewed sarsaparilla and it was different than any other root beer. It was lower in carbonation but higher in flavor. A strong licorice like taste. The question is, would I return? Yes. Did it knock my socks off? No. It was okay but not great.

• The Best fish and chips I have eaten were from Go Fish tucked into the wharf opposite Granville Island in Vancouver. Nothing else has come close.

• The Best fish and chips in Regina were cooked up at the old Chinese Kitchen which was that little, take out dive beside the Nortown Bowling Alley, across from The Pasqua Hospital. The fish was cooked in this super delicious batter that was quite yellow from the egg yolks. Now this is dating me but, fish and chips with cod was fifty cents a serving and with halibut (which is the best), it was sixty cents. No one has picked up their recipe and that’s a shame.

Garden Tip: The poinsettia that you are going to buy this Christmas is growing today. It was planted as a rooted cutting at the end of July or early August. Poinsettias, when they were first being grown were planted in fields and sold as a cut flower, not a potted plant. Poinsettias turn red due to restricted light, not because of a special fertilizer as most think they do.

Garden Tip: The traditional potted plant for Thanksgiving is a harvest colored mum.

Mixed Messages: A gift of a white rose can mean purity, innocence, virginity, death, grieving, love or cowardice. In World War Two, if someone of Army age did not sign up, people would hand them a white flower or a white feather, as an act of contempt.

• Not science fiction: One day in the future, there will be no need for organ donation as science will be able to clone needed organs from our own stem cells. But the day is off in the future and until it arrives, transplantation is one of our best options. If you think that is farfetched, then think back to the time they did the first heart transplant. That was forty years ago. We were all in shock and disbelief. Now, most of us know one or two people who have had one.

Sad but true: Every year at the garden center, usually in the spring when we were exceptionally busy, someone would point out that we had charged them too much. As in $11.95 for a pack of raspberries that were priced at $9.95. No problem. We made mistakes. We refunded the money with an apology. The law of averages says that for every mistake we made by charging too much, we would make one of charging too little. In twenty-eight years, I never had one person make that claim, that we had undercharged them.

Readers’ Comments: Lyn Goldman writes “your reports make me smile.” What? No laugh? Sheila Angelstad from Saskatoon wrote “fun blog.” “I am trying your bacon/mushroom sauce” so writes Joanne Terry. “Greatly appreciate your tips…” - Sherri Tutt. Marcus Fernando wrote in from Croatia about many things, almost a blog within itself. The one story that struck me was the time Marcus was in a show near Edinburg and The Scotsman sent a reviewer, who left after the first act and then wrote an entire review, as if he had been there the whole time. “Thank you for this lovely and interesting blog,” writes Micheil Verhal, first time reader from near Edmonton. Laura Ross wrote “Love The Garden Report.” Laura donated to The Kidney Walk this week as did Mysteria Gallery. That brings the number up to ten who have donated. Thank you.

Strange but true: We were in Winnipeg at their Fringe in 2004. They have an area set up with food and crafts booths. We were at a table, having a snack. A woman of around seventy was wandering through the crowd, obviously distressed. She was crying “feed me. Won’t someone feed me. I’m so hungry.” No one was paying any attention to her. I flagged her down and told her to sit at our table. I went over to a food booth and I bought a slice of pizza, a salad and a bottle of juice. I brought it back to our table and presented it to her. She looked at the food and said to me “What’s this for?” I told her she was crying that she was hungry and that this was my gift to her. She said “I don’t want food. I want money.” I told her “no” and she left. I often see her when I am in Winnipeg and she will approach me crying, “won’t someone help me? I’m so hungry.” When I remind her of our past interaction, she stops crying, and wanders down the street, looking for her next patron, and the crying starts again.

Garden Tip: Lovely fall color on the Amur Maple Tree located at the south end of The Albert Street Bridge, west side. Just starting to come into its full glory.

• Enjoy your garden, plant some fall bulbs this week…Rod in sunny Regina

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