Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Garden Report #41

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Morden Blush Rose
• Writers write: I have been pleasantly surprised with the volume of emails this week from our readers. Thirty of you took the time to write, proffer opinions and ask questions. This leads me to believe that readers feel invested in what appears here every Sunday. I always feel as if I should walk a fine line when it comes to asking people to participate in events or to donate money to causes. On the one hand, I have a passion for certain portions of our cultural mosaic and on the other hand, I don’t want to be viewed as a pest, always with my hand out. Having written that, I will take my chances with the following. The Regina Fringe Festival operates on a shoe string budget and many hours of volunteer labor. They have to raise money in order to present the festival. This is the fourth year that they have had a fundraiser night. There is music with Roberta Nichol who is worth the price of admission herself, there are good things to eat courtesy of Carlos and The Italian Star Deli, and the feature performance this year is my show ‘Glory Days’. The fundraiser is set for Friday, March 25th at The RSM. Tickets in advance are thirty dollars. I have promised The Fringe that I will sell fifty tickets for the night. This is where you come in. Would you consider purchasing some tickets from me? You will get a great night out and you will be assisting The Regina Fringe to develop the festival for Regina audiences. Send me an email and let me know how many tickets you would like. Thank you.

Morden Cardinette Rose
• Readers write: Joana Cook writes regarding my mentioning of our international readership, “You forgot your regular reader in London, England.” Joana is working on her Masters at King’s College. Catherine Parker writes “Another fun Garden Report. That’s a cute baby!” Marcus Fernando has commented on memorizing scripts. Marcus theorizes that if we store our scripts in the long term memory part of our brain, it is more difficult to memorize but it will stay there forever. If we utilize our short term memory, we can memorize scripts quicker, but we will not retain them for any length. That is a great theory. Who did you say you were again? Roberta Nichol agrees with Rob van Zaten in that ‘Winnipeg Parks’ is a first rate, prairie hardy rose. Reader Joan Kortje is moving from The Kidney Foundation to The YWCA and she is taking The Garden Report with her. June Blau writes “Once again you have hit on my favorite topics: cute babies, roses and food.” Yes…we are a triple threat here at the blog. Brock Silversides out of Toronto is appreciative of the readers who have reminisces of two local dance bands, The Adantes and Wascana. Chris Pasterfield who lives across the street writes in to say that he totally agrees with my assessment of our neighborhood. Chris enjoys both the people and the trees. Sarah Wills from Toronto writes “Enjoyed your ramblings as always. Really enjoyed the photos of ‘Winnipeg Parks’ rose and of Pascal.” June Mayhew is going to try out The Falafel King in Vancouver. She also has a friend in Edmonton who she has added to the mailing list. Georgia Hearn writes “Another enjoyable read.” Denise Cook writes that her mother had a stay at City Hospital in Saskatoon and Denise noticed that it is a very well run hospital. Cheryl Hutton from Calgary sent along a nice compliment regarding the titles within The Garden Report. She wrote: “ They are so fun and always describe the upcoming thought without being too blatantly obvious. In fact, sometimes there is great satisfaction taking a second glance at them after I've read the paragraph as I usually have an extra chuckle of appreciation for them.” Wendy Richardson from London, Ontario wrote: “I loved that you mentioned me in your Garden Report. It made me feel very special.” Well, now you can feel special a second time. Penney Pike out of Calgary writes “Look forward to Sundays and The Garden Report. Keep ‘em coming.” Reader Bobbi Jo Cook is home from Fort McMurray and she dropped by for a visit. She will be moving out to Vancouver to attend film school.

Morden Sunrise Rose
• Garden Tip: Reader Rob van Zanten who is one of the owners of Pan American Nursery Company, took the photographs of the three roses that are featured this week.  Rob took the photos last summer. ‘Morden Sunrise’ is one that I have growing in my own garden. It is not overly hardy and it does take a bit of mulching and snow mounding to get it through each winter. It usually dies back, quite close to the ground but it does come back and usually has many blooms on it towards the end of June. ‘Morden Cardinette’ is a petite rose as it does not grow too big. When it was first released in 1980, Dieter Martin gave me a rooted cutting of this rose. I grew it over the winter in my kitchen and I believe that the first Regina bloom of ‘Cardinette’ occurred in that room. Somewhere in my basement, there is a box of photographs and one is of that bloom from many years ago. ‘ Morden Blush’ is a lovely rose. As the blooms mature, they fade to a lighter color than what appears in the photograph. All three of these roses are worth growing. If you are obsessed with hardiness, The ‘Morden Blush’ is the hardiest of the three.

Northern Dazzle Lily
• Garden Tip: Two more photos this week of plants, courtesy of Dr. Phillip Ronald at Jeffries’ Nursery in Portage la Prairie. Phillip sent along a new lily called ‘Northern Dazzle’ and a ‘Diabolo Ninebark’ in a tree form. This is a purple leafed plant and it will grow around the six foot mark. It is a wonderful accent plant in a flower bed. You can plant all sorts of flowers or perennials underneath it.

• Mothers never understand: My friend Ian was going out of town and he shipped his sixteen year old boy Andrew, over to Uncle Rod’s for the weekend. His first night at our place, he wore his baseball cap to the table, a definite no-no at our house. I took his cap off and spit in it, handing it back to him. He thought I was the coolest dad for doing that. Maureen was less than impressed with what I had done but she was equally surprised that Andrew thought it was a fine thing to do. She asked: “How did you know to do that?” I used to be sixteen.

• Garden Tip: Reader Catherine Parker wanted to know how to get her four inch primulas, that she purchases at this time of year, to last long enough to transplant into the garden. Over the years, I have not had very good luck with these plants making it through to the spring. They seem to wither away to nothing. I suspect that they are meant to be enjoyed for a short time only, but they sure are a fresh breath of spring when they are in bloom. That was my answer and here is one from reader Michiel Verheul, who is one of Canada’s leading greenhouse growers: “Primula bloom once and then not again for a long time. They bloom under cool conditions. We see them available in the stores put them in our warm homes and by the time it gets warm enough to plant outside the flowers are done. Primula should be bought early, enjoyed like a spring bulb and then planted outside and maybe they will bloom in the fall for you to enjoy. Or just toss it and buy something fresh."

• The Galloping Gourmet: When Number Two Son had his seventh birthday party, somehow I was assigned to prepare the birthday supper for him and ten of his friends. I cooked wieners and beans and as I did not want ketchup all over the kitchen, I added it directly into the pot. The kids were really excited. The ketchup was already in the beans. I told them it was ‘gourmet wieners and beans.’. The next day, my phone started to ring. It was the mothers of these little boys inquiring as to my recipe for the gourmet dish their boys were raving over. When I told the mothers what I had done, each was disappointed. “That’s it? You added ketchup into the pot and called it ‘gourmet’?” Hey! It was a success with the seven year olds. Let it ride.

Diabolo Ninebark in a tree form
• Garden Tip: Reader Kim Lytle out of Saskatoon is concerned that last year was a terrible gardening year for many vegetable crops. She is worried that the forecast for this year is even worse. Should she plant a vegetable garden? Here is the answer: Gardeners by their very nature, are optimists. They persist in spite of Mother Nature and nosy neighbors. They grow plants that books say cannot be grown here. They are up early in the morning to get a start on the watering and they are out after dark with flashlights, squishing slugs. Gardeners order seeds when it is minus thirty-eight Celsius. Why? Because they just know that this year is going to be perfect. Last year Kim noticed that her root crops were not up to par, in part due to the wet and the cold. Yes, but the top crops such as spinach, Swiss Chard, and lettuce were decent. One of my friends had a wonderful crop of beets because she planted them in a raised garden box, which utilized the heat in a better fashion than if planted in the ground. Am I going to plant as much as I did last year and the year before? Does Murphy love tins of tuna? Stay tuned for these answers and more.

• Good Globe: We have season tickets for The Globe and this past week we took in ‘Shakespeare’s Will.’ Now I must confess, I have worked in the realm of one handers for a long time and do love the format. This one was outstanding. The woman playing the only role on stage, that of Anne Hathaway, carried the seventy-five minute performance extraordinarily well. There are those cultural snobs who insist that one handers are not real theater, but to watch this actor work was amazing. She created her own tension, joy and sadness. She created her own angst and irritants. This is theater in its simplest and yet most engaging format. It requires the audience to listen and to align themselves with the character on stage. When she announces that her husband’s sister is a “real bitch”, we empathize, each of us having a family member who can be trying. Leaving the theater and arriving home, there was a story on the television regarding the complexity and science involved in the creation of ‘Avatar’. I thought of the show we had just seen, less than an hour ago. This is theater that is a thousand years old. One person, stranding in the middle of the tribe, telling us a story of love and loss. This is a story teller with no place left to hide. There are no special effects or technology to save her. Either she carries the story or it fails. That is living on the tightrope. She deserved the standing ovation.

• ‘Shakespeare’s Will’ trivia: This play was written by Vern Thiessen, one on Canada’s top playwrights. His sister Ingrid is one of our regular readers and is also one of Regina’s finest Landscape Architects. Ingrid tells the story of being provided two comp tickets for a Shakespeare play while in university. For her date, she took along her kid brother, Vern, who was just entering his teens. Ingrid says he loved the play.

• Too funny: My friend Peter McGarry is an Irish playwright. Peter loves to perform in the nude, something I have never been persuaded to do, at least publicly. Our youngest son attended one of Peter’s plays. His review: “If I wanted to see a fat, middle aged, naked man, I would just have breakfast with my dad. I don’t need to pay eight dollars to do that.”

• Garden Tip: The spring edition of ‘Gardening for the Prairies’ has arrived. Absolutely stunning magazine. There was a time when our gardening magazines were produced in Toronto and New York, hardly regional. This magazine is a class act and produced in Saskatoon. For more information, go to

• Really, I’m straight: Anyone got two tickets for Elton John they want to sell to me at face value? I detest scalpers. They are slime personified. Prefer to sit in the stands and Thursday would be great.

• Garden Tip: Gardeners love to talk about gardening and they love to read about it. One could even write that gardeners are an obsessive lot. And what is my point? Don’t have one. There is a new book out from local publishing house, Coteau Books. The book is written by the well known Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner. The title is ‘Gardening Naturally: a chemical free handbook for the Prairies.’ I have not read it yet but my copy is on its way.

• Writers who help: Congratulations go out to Ed Willet who is now our new ‘Writer in Residence’ at The Regina Public Library. Ed is an excellent writer and he is a very good choice for the position. If you are dying to be a writer or if you have a script as yet unfinished, you can secure an appointment to see Ed at the downtown library and he will assist you with your project.

• A new audience: We were at The Symphony last night. I found myself chatting with two eight year old girls. I cracked a joke about me auditioning to be a dancer in ‘Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang’. They laughed. I had no idea I could be funny to such a young audience. I am now working on some new material for that group. Jokes about why mommies are so mean, why boys are stupid and how immature seven year olds can be at times. It’s Grade Three all over without the pressure to succeed.

Murphy says: "Hurry up spring!  I want to chase some squirrels."
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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