Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Garden Report #23

The Garden Report #23

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Summer days: It is an incredibly sunny afternoon in Regina. The air is very warm for November the 7th. Stuart Mclean has just finished his Vinyl Café. Maureen balked at making my favorite, corn bread for breakfast. So toast sufficed, but the coffee is the way I like it with lots of bite. Can writers write without a coffee by their side? I suppose we can but I am not willing to volunteer. When I gave up the evil cigarettes in 1989, the greatest addiction of our generation, I lost the ability to write cohesively for almost two years. I had difficulty remembering that paragraphs consist of topic related sentences. It took some time, but eventually the neurons in my brain learned new routes and I was able to resume my passion. And a writer needs passion. If not for passion, kissing a pretty lady is a waste of time and effort. So I raise my mug of French Roast to all of you in a toast to passion. May it always be our first thought of the day.

Dwarf Delphiniums
Readers Write: Several of you responded to the story regarding the carrying of grudges in #22. I am not surprised as it is the universal experience. John Huston wrote that he would be forwarding the column to a few friends who needed to hear the story. Alan Bratt suggests that grudges are a way for us to feel sorry for ourselves as in the other person was ‘ever so wrong.’ Changing direction, Sarah Wills who gardens in southern Ontario wrote “it lightens up my mailbox every Monday morning.” Lola from Saskatoon writes “lovely story” in regards to how our love changes as we mature. Ingrid Thiessen wrote “A good way to start the week. Amen to the sermon!” Move over Jimmy Swaggart. According to constant reader Roberta Nichol, Mieka Wiens taught a class in cooking last month. Mieka has always been such an incredible chef. When I think of her, I think of chicken curry, cheesecake and tomato/orange soup. I am in love with her recipes. Gail Bowen who is at present residing in Calgary, informs me that she is forwarding the blog to others. Joanne Crofford refers to #22 as “entertaining” and Georgia Hearn writes “it is fun to read.” June Mayhew wrote in to say “once again, another great garden report”. Cheryl Hutton out of Calgary wrote “…wonderful moments…simply warmed my heart…” Cheryl is working with school children in southern Alberta, developing theater skills.

November is now Movember: As we watch the news, we are informed that this month has a slight twist to it. Men are supposed to grow a moustache to show their support for the fight against prostate cancer. My moustache hero, hockey legend Lanny MacDonald is one of the promoters. I am not certain what I am supposed to be doing as my ‘stache has been affixed since 1974. As a disease, it is somewhat close to me as my father developed prostate cancer when he was 58 and died from it at 64. Best line regarding prostate cancer came from Joan Baldwin who lives just across the bridge from us. Joan cracked “five years ago, you guys didn’t know you owned a prostate and now you have support groups.” Yes Joan, and we hold hands while we sing ‘Kumbaya’.

For the men of a ‘certain age’: The two best ways of detecting prostate cancer early are, through a blood test called a PSA and with a manual inspection called a DRE. I cannot get over how many of my friends refuse to have a DRE carried out, as they are embarrassed and uncomfortable with the procedure. Tough. It is embarrassing and it is uncomfortable, but I still get it done once a year. I would much rather have this test carried out than to be sitting in the urologists office and hear him say “if only we had caught this six months earlier, we would have been able to save you.” Have the test. It could save your life.

Hard worker: In every community, there are people who give of themselves. They volunteer their time and energy and if not for them, our neighborhoods would be less vibrant places to live. One such volunteer is Jodi Sadowsky who has been shepherding The Fringe Festival and now she has taken on another theatrical challenge. Jodi is promoting The Golden Apple Theatre in its inaugural season. The opening show will be ‘Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris’. It starts November 17th for a ten day run at the new venue, The Artesian on 13th and Angus. For more information, go to If you see Jodi, thank her for her wonderful contribution to the arts.

Great Shoppe: Another person who contributes to the arts scene in Regina is Frank over at Bach and Beyond. His little record shop sells tickets for every amateur production out there. People should try and make at least one purchase this Christmas from Bach and Beyond. If he ever shuts down, we will no longer have a shop where we can find every type of music that exists. He is worth preserving.

Murphy says: "Rod's jokes do not impress me!"
Garden Tip: There has always been a debate over cutting back perennials and roses in the fall or the spring. Each side has their reasons. Maureen prefers to cut things back in the fall so that the garden looks tidy for the winter and early spring. Myself, for horticultural reasons, I do not cut things back until the spring. The plant tops catch the snow, creating a deeper cover. The more snow a garden has, the more protected the plants underneath are. Snow is a great insulator. Also, when it comes to roses, I prefer to trim everything in the spring, once I have determined the degree of winter kill on the canes.

Economically and Socially Disadvantaged: Maureen does not want me using the phrase ‘white trash’ to describe anyone. So, bowing to political correctness, I have assigned them the term ‘economically and socially disadvantage persons of Caucasian ancestry.’ I was driving along Broad Street, heading north, near 14th Avenue. Out of the 7/11 parking lots pulls this car filled with persons previously listed as ‘white trash.’ One member of this subculture, riding in the back seat, rolls down the window and tosses out the wrappings from his candy and cigarettes. No sense in cluttering up their rusted out, muffler missing, 1988 Ford Fairlane.

Garden Tip: If you wish to become a better gardener, and who doesn’t, then I suggest that you subscribe to ‘Gardening for the Prairies’. It is published in Saskatoon and a subscription gets you four issues a year. It is a top quality publication. It would also make a wonderful Christmas gift for another gardener.

Tulips and just a dream...
Garden Tip: I am so tired of hearing “I read on the internet…” as an explanation for gardening advice. Here is the problem. Most gardening sites are not specific enough for our 2b zone. We are cold and we are on the prairies, which is entirely different than upstate New York. The other issue I have is that the range of information on the internet runs the gamut from the fully documented to the bizarre. For those who know me, I am a lifelong, history buff. I visit history sites all of the time. Most of the sites are not documented or researched. They are nothing more than the authors attempt to advance his political agenda. Many sites have rewritten history to suit their views. Don’t get me wrong. I love the internet and I use it all of the time, but each time I go to Google, I put on my social filters. Just because I read it on the internet, does not make it true!

Too funny: I research my heritage. My paternal grandmother was a Billard, a French family in Newfoundland. The ‘Newfies’ have some wonderful genealogical sites. One site had my great-great grandmother listed as having given birth in 1855. One problem. She was born in 1798, which would have made her 57 at the time. The author should have realized that the birth mother was the daughter of the woman born in 1798, and they shared the same name, then the math works.

Patience is a virtue: Driving down Albert Street by the old Campion College. It is now a Christian School and they have convinced The City to install a set of flashing lights and a speed reduction to 40 k.p.h. No problem. It’s a safety issue. I am doing the forty and the woman beside me is doing the forty but this kid behind her thinks we should go faster. He starts honking his horn, trying to get her to speed up. She doesn’t and neither do I. Once we are through the zone, the kid whips between the two of us. He is the first one stopped at the 25th Avenue lights. Then he was the first in line at the lights on Parliament, 31st Avenue and Gordon Road. Yeah, he showed us. He beat us to all four of those red lights by at least two car lengths.

Garden Tip: In gardening, there are very few absolutes. I have four Russian Cypress (Microbiota decusata) planted along Angus Street. These plants always go into a winter dormancy, the color, changing from green to purple. Three of the four have done so. One remains absolutely green. No hint of a change. Why? Beats me. I would find it easier to explain the behavior of fourteen year olds than this contradiction.

Little Leaf Lilac - Top Graft
Football fans only: Finally!

Buzz: Finally, my people are receiving their long overdue recognition. Take a read through ‘How the Scots Invented Canada’. Yes, it’s true. We are not only hardy and thrifty, but we are also inventive. And as a rule, exceptionally good looking while retaining our sense of humility.

Remembrance Day: It is a day, that we as a nation have set aside, to remember all of those who have suffered the devastation of war. It is a day to remember the nineteen year old boys who fell at Dieppe. Or of the eight year old girl who understood terror as the bombs fell on London, Berlin, Baghdad, or Tokyo. It is a day to remember that others have sacrificed for us, that they paid the price. Of course, we now have the opportunity to honor these people by going to The Bay on November 11th and enjoying “really big savings”. There was a time in this city, if a store opened on November 11th, the manager would have been horsewhipped at The Cenotaph. Sadly, we have traded our obligation to remember for a few more shopping hours.

Enjoy the autumn…Rod McDonald in very sunny Regina!

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