Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Garden Report #52

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Murphy resting in the garden
• Writers write: Let the trumpets sound and the drums roll their beat. We have an anniversary. That’s enough excitement for now so let’s get on with it. My own garden is looking as lush as ever with all the cool and rainy weather. The ferns are up as are all of the other perennials. The tulips are in their full glory and the martagon lily that I planted four years ago, has five stems filled with buds on it. The lawn which suffered dearly from snow mould has recovered and while it is not thick, it is evenly green. It will thicken by the end of June. The slugs have not attacked the hostas yet but I suspect those sneaky critters are laying in wait. Maureen will soon be installing her slug traps filled with quality Canadian beer.

Readers write:

     • #Jean Freeman writes “I loved your story about your son and the mountains.”

     • #Lyn Goldman writes “I loved your pictures of Murphy.”

     • #Gary Drummond writes “Thanks for your reports every week. They are always an enjoyable read and for many different reasons. I'm not sure how you keep stats but I send 5 copies out most weeks. Cheers.”

     • #Michel Touchette writes “The Garden Report has become an intellectual gymnastic that I look forward to read on Sunday .Thank you for keeping my mind flexible especially during the spring madness. It is so easy to develop tunnel vision at this time of year and forgetting the small joys of life -like friends. Take care. Michel from Jeffries Nurseries Ltd.”

     • #Joanne Crofford writes “Thanks for repeating the advice you gave me in Safeway…love the photos.”

A mama duck in June Blau's backyard
      • #June Blau sent along a photo of a mother duck who has taken up residence in their wood pile.

     • #Reader John Huston wants us to know that he had a birthday on Sunday and that the world did not come to an end.

     • #A friend of this blog caught a spelling mistake but worried I would take offence. I don’t. I used the spelling of rouge when I meant rogue. It is one of those words where I would have never figured out what was wrong, it looks so right. The friend liked the photo of Murphy checking out the robins in the Dolgo Flowering Crab.

     • #Readers Mike and Kristi Liske are expecting their first child. Mike is a bit overwhelmed by the news but he will adapt. We always do.

     • #Reader Rachelle Elie has a new clown show opening in Toronto in early June. If you need more info, send me an email and I will forward you the show’s information. Rachelle’s work is funny, original and brilliant. I should charge for such nice compliments.

     • #Georgia Hearn wrote “Fabulous edition!” but did she send money?

     • #From Saskatoon, Lola at The Ninth Street Bed and Breakfast writes “You're becoming very popular with your enjoyable musings on all things garden and life in general!”

     • #Marcus Fernando writes from Croatia this week “Tina and I are really making headway in our new Croatian garden! Mind you, there is a clear division of labour (or "labor", as you Transatlantic types like to say!): I'm there with a pickaxe, breaking up the sun-baked earth, clearing rocks and hacking down the undergrowth...and Tina plants things!”

Kwanzan Cherry in Sarah's backyard
     • #Reader Sarah Willis from southern Ontario sent along two photos of a Kwanzan Cherry in her back yard along with a lovely photo of her two puppies. Sarah was concerned that Murphy the Cat was getting too much publicity. For people who have known me a long time, they will remember that I always had puppy dogs in my garden. McIvor gardened for fifteen years with me and now his ashes are mixed into the tulip beds. And before McIvor there was Cleopatra and going back into the seventies, there was a cute Samoyed who lived with us named Samantha.

     • #Ann Anderson wrote in to say that she loves The Garden Report and she wants to know if one can grow cucumbers in a container on a balcony? The answer is yes to both the container and the balcony. Ann can also grow tomatoes and herbs on her balcony as well.

     • #Cheryl Hutton had this to say, but she wrote it of course. “I've caught up on the last couple of reports and let me join everyone in congratulating you on your 50th (now 51st) report! I still love each and every one of them. You've got a way of embracing the everyday and bringing joy to the little things. Your writing first struck me with this quality back during the 2008 Regina Fringe with the nightly newsletters and you've continued to grow and excel every week with the Garden Report. I realize there will be a day when they no longer come to my inbox but let me tell you, I hope I'm old and retired well before that day! A selfish statement on my part, perhaps, but there you go!” Thanks Cheryl, how long before you are ‘old and retired’.

     • #Wendy Richardson of London, Ontario lets us know that the rain has slowed down gardening in that area as well as here in the Regina region. Wendy adds “enjoying The Garden Report.”

• Garden Tip: A reader asked why her tulips bloomed last year, but only grew leaves this year with no flowers. In order for tulips to bloom the next year, you must allow the leaves to fully ripen before cutting them back. The leaves must be withered and brown before you remove them. If that has occurred, the bulbs have recharged themselves for another season. Most of us cut the leaves too soon and the bulbs do not have the energy to throw another bloom, just the leaves.

• Garden Tip: This question came from a reader via the internet. Please remember that when you ask me a question and post it under the ‘comment section’, there is no way I can respond as your address does not show up. The question is: Should the plugs be raked up after a lawn has been aerated? The answer is only if they really bother you. The plugs usually break down in a week or two, depending on how hot and dry it is. They are good for the lawn. But they do look like goose droppings and if they bother you, then rake them up. Horticultural wise, they are fine, but aesthetically is a different answer.

For what it is worth: I used to receive employment applications from people who had worked at the box store garden centers, all of the time. They wanted to move up to the big leagues and work at a quality greenhouse and garden center. I would administer a simple test to these people who claimed they had this experience. I would ask them to tell me their three favorite annuals that grew in the sun and their three favorite annuals that grew in the shade. They rarely could pass this test. On the other hand, the avid gardeners who applied, when asked that question, could not be shut up. They didn’t have three favorites. They had fifty or a hundred and they were going to tell me all about them.

Kwanzan Cherry bloom
• Never too old: My mother had a friend who was eighty-five. I was teasing her that she should turn him into a boyfriend. She told me that he already had three girlfriends. I was confused. “You mean he has three friends who are females?” “No, no,” Mom replied. “He has three girlfriend girlfriends.” I was curious, so I grilled Mom about her friend. It turns out he and his wife married when they were twenty and she died at eighty. His thinking was that he had been married to one woman for sixty years and now it was time to ‘play the field.’ I think he was just another man who had difficulty with commitment.

• Garden Tip: If you need to cover your bedding plants because there is a frost warning, never use a plastic or a poly sheet. Plastic transmits the cold. Always use a cotton bed sheet.

• Garden Tip: This year continues to be the best year ever for the blooms on the Mayday Trees and the Schubert Cherries. Absolutely spectacular! The flowering crabs and apples are beginning to pop and I suspect it should be a grand year for them. The cooler weather always encourages a longer bloom period.

• Garden Tip: A well cared for lawn has very few problems with weeds as compared with an uncared for lawn. What is a well cared for lawn? One that has been fertilized, watered, aerated, reseeded in the bare patches and cut every five days at this time of year. When a customer would ask me what to spray because they had nothing but weeds in their lawn, I would always ask ‘why do you have so many weeds.’ That is the real question that needs answering.

• Garden Tip: I was making my rounds of the greenhouses and I must compliment Larry over at Sherwood Greenhouses (behind CTV). Larry always has his operation neat and tidy and for people who know me, a clean greenhouse is a must. Larry has some new petunias growing that are worth looking at. I normally don’t’ stop at the parking lot greenhouses, but I had occasion to visit Custom Potters just south of Park and Arcola. Gwen who owns the place, does a lot of custom potting for both residential and commercial operations and she has some interesting basket stuffers for sale to the public.

• Strolling down 13th Avenue: Saturday was the 20th Annual Cathedral Village Arts Festival Market. Another incredible turnout with thousands of people checking out hundreds of booths. We spent a few hours in the afternoon visiting with many readers of The Garden Report. We think that next year we will get a booth and put up a sign ‘Visit with Rod and Maureen’. That way we can have some soft chairs and a big thermos of tea. Every year, the organizers ask that people not bring their dogs to this event for several good reasons. There were lots of dogs again and some people just don’t seem to get it that the street is just too crowded to bring along their adorable pooch. New Dance Horizons had their booth in front of Mysteria once more. I got a free hug from Robin, the founder and director. If you have not done so already, purchase your Secret Garden Tour tickets soon. Robin will probably give you a hug, as well.

• Good news: A community often declines when it loses its long time independent businesses. In our neighborhood, we lost two hardware stores that were mainstays for years as well as both of our shoe repair shops. I ran into Frank who used to own Frank’s Shoe Repair on 13th and he is back in business, part time. He is working out of his garage near Connaught School. You can reach him at 533-7395 and he will fix anything made of leather, vinyl or canvas. Frank is an ‘old school’ shop keeper so you can count on him to fix it right.

• June?: Am I the only one who has a problem with The Stanley Cup being played in the month of June? Whatever happened to seasonal sports? Having gotten that off of my chest, I will be cheering for Vancouver.

• Soon: Mosaic will be starting this week. For those new to the city, Mosaic is an annual event that features pavilions organized by ethnic groups. You can jump onto the bus and visit Scotland, France, The Ukraine, India, Germany, Italy and so on, if you have your passport. It is a good time filled with food and cultural events. Mosaic is on this year June 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Yes, I will be at The Scottish Pavilion. Why do you ask?

• Worst job: The worst job I ever had was as a volunteer. A few years back I was asked to be a traffic marshal for The Cathedral Village Arts Festival. I was assigned the corner of Garnet and 13th. The traffic marshal’s job is simple. All you have to do is ensure that people do not park in the middle of the adjoining street. That way, if an ambulance or a fire truck has to get through, it can. You have to ask people politely, not to park there and being Canadian, it is not a problem because we are so damned easy to get along with, right? Let me assure you, I met several Canadians who were not so polite. I had one elderly lady insist that she could park in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, because it was convenient. I had to insist that she move and she said “you are shitty!” I suspect that these violators are the same group who park in the handicapped stalls, because that is convenient as well.

• You can’t beat beets: I was six years old, living at the corner of Dewdney Avenue and Rae Street. I was in Grade One at Albert School and my best friend lived a few houses north on Rae. His name was Lorne and we played together all of the time. One Sunday that autumn, Lorne and I were playing in his back yard and there was a pail of beets, dug from the garden by his mother, by the back steps. Lorne said “I hate beets” and proceeded to pee on them. Wanting to show my solidarity with my best friend, I joined the urination process though secretly, I liked beets. We continued to play through the afternoon and at supper, I was invited to join Lorne’s family. Out of the kitchen comes Lorne’s mom with a big bowl of steaming beets and she announces “when I was speaking with your mother, she informed me that you love beets so I made extra, just for you.” She filled my plate with a double serving of this wonderful vegetable as Lorne and I stared at each other in horror.

Two good puppies...Meadow and Jasmine
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in rainy Regina

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