Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Garden Report #46

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Kelsey Flowering Crab in bloom
• Writers write: This has been my week from hell. I make no secret of my illness. My kidneys have ground to a halt and I have been on dialysis for the last three and a half years. I have my good days and bad ones. Last Sunday was a wonderful day. I felt great. I got much accomplished. The world was the way it should be. As is often the case with my illness, when I have a good day I want to shout “I am cured! Hallelujah!” But my cures are short lived. The next seven days have been a struggle. I sleep. Around the clock. I get confused. I read the same page, over and over. I take my drugs. I do my therapy. I show up for my clinics. I tell God that if this is a test, I have failed miserably. I have not borne my burden with grace or dignity. I have bitched and complained. Tim Horton’s should give out free coffee to people who bitch and complain. But then the lines would be even longer. Writers find their inspiration when they learn to access their pool of pain. Or so I have been told. If true, there must be a novel laid bare by now. One of my nurses said “At least you have maintained your sense of humor.” Is that the consolation prize? Humor is like clean underwear and your American Express Card. You can finish the joke.

• Readers write: Kirk from Kitchen Gear, the new store on Hill Avenue, appreciated The Garden Report’s welcome to the neighborhood. Kirk wrote “You definitely have a loyal following”. Liz Calam writes that her daffodils, tulips and snowdrops are pushing through the remaining snow. Gail Bowen writes “I enjoy the weekly visits with you, our friends and neighbors, and with the strangers who share a delight for everyday living.” Sandra Rayson writes “Thank you for the excellent advice on lawn care…I am impressed with the wide scope you cover. Keep up the excellent work.” Both Jodi Sadowsky and Jean Freeman wrote asking if I hired the schoolyard bully from #45? The answer is no and it was not from a sense of revenge. He would have stolen from unattended purses and he would have sworn at the customers. Not really Lakeview Gardens material. Chris Dodd has started printing the posters ‘Rod for Prime minister’. Chris also wants to know why restaurants such as Montana’s make you wait when there are clean tables ready to be used. Murray and Sharon Wallace wrote in to say that they really enjoyed the recipe for lemon/pork cutlets published in #44.

A Thunderchild Fl.  Crab I planted in 1980
• A heritage tree: Sandra Rayson sends along a photo of a Thunderchild Flowering Crab growing in her back yard. I planted this tree for Sandra and her late husband Michael, in 1980, thus my claiming it as a heritage tree. Thunderchild was developed by Percy Wright in Saskatoon. It is a very hardy, disease resistant, ornamental tree. It was known as the ‘Celebrate Saskatchewan Tree’ in 1980, the 75th anniversary of our province. It is now grown and sold all over the world. There are three other shots this week of flowering crabs and plums. They are courtesy of Dr. Phillip Ronald of Jeffries Nursery.

• Told you so: If you are wheezing and scratching a little more than usual, it is probably due to the snow mould that is out there. What is snow mould you ask? It is the white, cotton like substance that is on lawns throughout the neighborhood. It is present every year and due to the heavy amount of snow this winter, it has multiplied. It can be easily removed with a light fan rake and disposed of in garbage bags. If you have a severe reaction to it, best to hire someone not as sensitive. I have been using a bit of Claritin to get me through. I told everyone much earlier in the winter that this would happen…and it did.

Starlite Flowering Crab in bloom
• Garden Tip: Do not, do not, do not fertilize in April. Do not fertilize your lawn or your shrubs or your trees. Alright, if you have some bedding plants growing in the kitchen, you can fertilize those, lightly. It is too early to start, even on a nice day to feed your outdoor plants and lawn.

• Garden Tip: For fertilizing lawns, best to apply three applications during the growing season. Apply five pounds of fertilizer per thousand square feet of lawn in early to middle May, middle June and middle August. That is May 15th, June 15th and August 15th for those who need exact dates. For sun areas, I have been recommending 26-13-0 and for shadier areas, especially in old Lakeview, I have been recommending 17-20-0-15 or its equivalent. Last year, the formula for that one had been changed to 17-19-0-14 which is close enough. That one is particularly hard to find. I buy mine from CPS which is located on McDonald Street, north of Ross Avenue. It is quite close to Global Television.

• Garden Tip: For trees, shrubs, and bedding plants, I have been using 10-30-20 water soluble. If you can’t find that one, 15-30-15 is also a good one, as long as it is the water soluble type. For the 10-30-20, I had to bring in twenty-five pound bags from Winnipeg last year as I could not find it anywhere. 10-30-20 will give you blooms with shorter stems than if you use 20-20-20. Shorter stems are what you want as they will not snap off in the wind and wind is always a consideration in Regina.

• Name that new caragana: In last week’s blog, reader Casey Van Vloten offered up a prize for the best name of a plant he is propagating. The entries for this contest include: Gayle White from Winnipeg with Cadence. Jean Freeman’s name is Butterflake, Liz Calam’ is Prairie Butter, Georgia Hearn submitted Buttercup Beauty and June Blau has suggested Buttercups. And the winner is Liz Calam’ entry of ‘Prairie Butter’. Casey is sending Liz a free plant this summer for her efforts.

• Garden Tip: This one is more of a pep talk for new gardeners. When you start out gardening, you are going to meet a handful of gardeners who will tell you that they have never lost a plant in their lives. These people are what we used to call ‘Fiber McGees”. They are delusional. Gardeners, even great ones, lose plants with regularity and this year will be no different. This year, I expect to lose some plants from drowning. There has been too much water sitting for too long in some beds and the lack of oxygen will impact those plants.

• Too funny: About twenty years ago, we had a customer return a hanging basket that she had bought the year before. It was filled with geraniums. It had not survived the winter and she wanted a replacement. We explained that hanging baskets are grown for one season only and she said “don’t be ridiculous. No one pays $14.95 for something that lasts only one season.”

• Fireside Bistro: Several of the readers of this blog have recommended this place at Smith and 15th. My friend Ian had his birthday supper there recently and I was a guest. There were five eaters of which three rated their meal as very good. Those meals included a Cajun Perch, a Steak Neptune and a Glazed Salmon. Ian and I rated our meals mediocre with Ian having the lamb and I the rib steak. My steak was in the middle, being neither great nor poor. The potatoes were okay but nothing special and my veggies were luke warm. I know that I did not challenge the kitchen with my choice of meals but sometimes a basic is all you want. I did not have an appetizer, a drink or a dessert so no opinion on any other menu choices.

• Angor: This Asian restaurant is tucked out behind Costco in Box Store Land. We visit it about twice a year and we always find the food to be somewhere between good and excellent. Saturday night was date night for us and we headed out to Angor. We tried to order their version of a Cambodian Papaya Salad but they were out of papaya, which is often the story. We switched over to a Thai Salad that had as its base crispy noodles, peppers, chicken and a sweeter dressing. Very tasty. We then gave a try to their Thai soup. This one started out with a red curry paste, broth, shrimp, mushrooms and a good shot of vinegar which ensured the sinuses were working overtime. It was very tasty as well. Our one and only entrée dish was something that we had discussed many times but never ordered. A hot pot of Coca Cola chicken, onions and carrots. We gave it a try, just to say we had ordered it. Nothing special at all. No flavor of the cola at all. Rather bland and disappointing.

• Easter Flowers: If you are purchasing a hydrangea for Easter, and they are a lovely potted plant, you must be aware that they require large amounts of water. Best to set your potted plant into the sink, filled with two inches of water, every morning for ten to fifteen minutes. Every year, I hear of or personally see hydrangeas in distress because their owners are not vigilant with the watering schedule.

• Mmmm…good: Found some really tasty hot cross buns at Maple Leaf/Oscar’s on 11th and Toronto. Most of the hot cross buns I have tasted in recent years are not fit for human consumption, that bland. But these ones are decent, not as good as mom’s home baked but still decent.

Princess Kay Plum in bloom
 • Attention deficit, I don’t think so: Friday night, there I was, as most good Canadian men were, stretched out on the couch, flipping between two hockey games and The Blue Jays in Boston. The artist/formerly a nurse who I share my life but not the flipper with, was filing complaints over my alleged attention deficit disorder. I pointed out the skills involved in juggling all three games at once, the manual dexterity required and that she as a Gemini should appreciate my ability to multi task. I understand that half of my readers support my position and the other half think I should have tuned into the ‘What Not to Wear’ marathon. This is why we have two televisions.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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