Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Garden Report #56

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

After Eight Oriental Lilies
• Writers write: The garden season has been interesting, as always. In our area, too much rain and cool has been the problem, all the way through April, May and June. We have had next to no warm weather. Even this late in June, my boiler is still on! Contrast that with the June of 1988. That month, it was between 34 and 37 Celsius most days. The sun baked the ferns and it fried the fuchsias. People were in a state of suspended animation. They barely moved. The only store that did a good business was The Dairy Queen. They were packed. I have often written that the best months to garden are January and February. In those two months, there are no slugs, no hail and no wind to knock down your peonies. When you garden in your mind, everything is perfect.

• Readers write:

     • Terri Skuce wrote “Thanks! Very enjoyable... also very touching because Vancouver is my hometown (born there and spent the first half of my life there). I was sickened by what happened... and appreciated what you had to say about ‘Canada’s greatest night of disgrace’.”

     • Sandra Rayson has this to say about Taylors/Michelin: “Thank you for another wonderful edition. So sorry to hear about your tire troubles. I am a loyal customer of Taylor Motors, but I do know that they usually refer customers with tire problems to the Tire Co. as those have a separate warranty. Perhaps the manner in which the message was given to you was improper & I am sorry about that. I trust Michelin will honor your warranty.”

     • Marg Hryniuk had this to say about the tire story: “It's beginning to get scary! But if such stories continue to accumulate, maybe there will be change. Interesting, interesting.”

     • Reader Dean Ast had a story to relay regarding his tire experience. “It was once again time to replace tires on one of our vehicles this past week- had a screw in one & the shop said you may as well replace them all as they are getting thin on tread. Instead of spending $30 to remove the screw & repair the hole, replacing had come up with less than 60K on the set that had a longer life expectancy than that. So, off to do some homework & research. After deciding on a particular tire, I proceeded to gain some price quotes. As well, I talked to a few friends for thoughts & recommendations. One friend recommended that I NOT deal with a large box retailer as he felt their service was very disappointing - incidentally, the friend works at the said large retailer. However, this friend proceeded to tell me of a local independent retailer that he was impressed with. He said the service was friendly & the price was competitive. I called Graham's for a quote. The gal called me back a few minutes later with information that my chosen tire was on back order & suggested an alternative which also had a rebate. That tire was on my hit list as well. The price was very competitive and I felt the tire was a good choice. I left my south Regina home just before 2pm earlier this week driving to Graham's, just north of Evraz on Albert Street north. I called my wife back at 2:28pm and said "I'm done & on my way home". I would recommend that you give them a try. It was basic, but friendly service - no bells & whistles, but let's get the job done! I understand those feelings when only 1 of the tires is "history", but you seem to be forced into buying 4 tires, instead of dealing with just 1.” Dean

     • Dianne Palmer had this short but nice message. “Rod . . . . . I enjoy reading your Garden Report and your way with Words.” – Dianne

     • Another comment on the tire story. “Good morning Rod! I have been an avid reader of The Garden Report for the past six months or so….thoroughly informative and enjoyable! OMG – when I read your tale about Taylor Motors it was déjà vu….my son, Rhyse, purchased his beloved Volkswagen Jetta from them in 2009, and it had Michelin tires on it…you’re right….impressive! But on his first highway trip, one of these ‘impressive’ tires blew to shreds. The response from Taylor – almost verbatim to the response you’ve received…hmmm….makes me think they must receive quite a few of these complaints, so they’ve developed a scripted response! The response from the tire dealerships….same. He managed to save his pennies and put four new tires on the Jetta. The complete and utter lack of customer service has soured this “family” on dealing with Taylor Motors ever again!” Bev Cardinal

     • Kate Berringer responded to the topic of ‘God bless St. Mary’s’ with this comment. “I am so glad to hear your words about St. Mary’s. We’ve really strived to become a place where the community can come in and be embraced by God’s love as they go about their dancing, acting, learning and living in our space. Gone are the days, I think, when a church can afford to act like an exclusive club. We are in a time when embracing and walking along side people from all walks of life is what followers of Christ are called to do, more so than ever before!” Rod’s note: I agree.

     • Joan Kortje was saddened by the Vancouver riots. She wrote “ I too am aghast, speechless and also extremely sad at what happened in Vancouver. I am not quite as proud a Canadian as I was!”

     • Reader Jim Gibbs out of Winnipeg wrote this: “I read your report religiously and am saving the garden tips; it seems to me that there is a book in these and with changes in the printing process it is possible to have smaller runs multiple times; just a thought. If Maureen starts to roll her eyes feel free to blame me.”

Pascal, Tina and Marcus- Garden Report Readers
     • Marcus Fernando who lives in England but has performed across Canada (and loves this country) wrote his bit about the Vancouver riots. “You're right: this is not the Canada that I remember, and I've known it for a much shorter time than you.”

     • Cheryl Ann Smith who was the major domo at The Marian Center for many years, is now serving at a retreat house in England. Cheryl Ann had this to say about the Vancouver riots. “Thank you for writing what and as you did re the rioting in Vancouver. I was horrified and saddened as well, and couldn't believe that it was Canadians responsible for this. You articulated it beautifully. I'm praying that as many of these young people as possible, come to their senses, like the Prodigal Son, and realize the emptiness and death of their actions.”

     • Gwen Barschel let me know this. “Rod, we are also Lexus owners. My husband says that yes, most car manufacturers put cheap tires on their new cars. Ours wore out at about the same time. I guess some ‘families’ are nicer than others.”

     • Claude Schroder, who is the priest at St. Mary’s, had this to say. “Thanks for the encouragement about St. Mary's. Love the garden report!”

     • Roberta Nichol weighed in on the Vancouver riots, and had this to say. “I was just appalled by what happened in Vancouver. How embarrassing to the city and our country. I have to say, I really have trouble understanding how supposedly "well brought up" kids can act like that. Some of these kids have doctors for fathers, and are champion athletes! Why? Why did this happen? Life is already showing these young rabble rousers that it can be tough, if you don't think and make proper choices. Mommy and daddy won't always be there to bail you out.”

• Garden Tip: Reader Andy Idema inquired about Tower Poplars that have been bent over by the wind. The root balls are exposed. The only thing I can recommend, because the trees are twenty to twenty-five feet tall, is to cut them back to twelve feet. That will make them manageable and the root balls can be straightened out. At the height of twelve feet, the trees can be double staked and allowed to grow again. The roots were not strong enough to defend against the last wind storm.

• Blooming this week: I have seen an incredible collection of iris’ in their full glory. The Little Leaf Lilacs continue their show and are very fragrant. The Villosa Lilacs which are often referred to as ‘the late lilacs’ are in flower. I have also seen a few bleeding hearts, which I would have thought should have been finished. The peonies that survived the wind and the rain are starting their show and I have some blooms opening on my roses.

• The Fringe is coming: July 6th to the 10th this year. Great shows to be expected, as always. For the schedule and show descriptions, visit

• Strangers no more: I was fifteen in 1967, working at Klondike Days in Edmonton. I was on the midway, buying a root beer. Drink in hand, I turned around and I was bumped by an RCMP officer into an inner group of politicians. Not knowing what to do and being surrounded at the perimeter by many RCMP, I marched along with these men. One of them turned to me and asked how I was doing? I told him I was doing “just fine”. It was Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. The RCMP figured out that I did not belong to the inner sanctum, and I was hustled to the outside. That wasn’t my fifteen minutes of fame, more like my fifteen seconds.

Reader Brad Crassweller's farm-under water-two miles south of Regina
• Garden Tip: I hate to write this but for many of us, we will have to replant our annual flowers if we want a good show this year. Due to the rain, some are beyond recovery.

• You are odd: Reader Kirk Bellamy was walking by my house on Tuesday, right after the last bit of rain. He spotted me in the front yard, watering can in hand. He couldn’t pass that by. He had to come over and ask “what are you doing?” There was more incredulity in his voice than there was a question mark. I had to explain that my four flower boxes are protected by the overhang of the house and they needed water. I actually had a plant in one of the boxes with curled leaves due to dehydration. Only in Regina, you say?

• Banks are hard to understand: When Number Two Son was about eight, his mother set him up with a bank account. We were hoping to teach the boys the importance of saving. After he had made his first deposit, he was showing signs of distress. His mother asked what the problem was and he asked: “How are they going to keep my money separate from the next customer who comes in? What if they mix it all together?”

• Garden Tip: I really enjoy my Pink Wave Petunias. They are a consistent performer. One of the things I do with my Wave pots is that I trim them back with scissors, after two weeks in the pot. This ‘haircut’ helps them to bush out. After another two to three weeks, I give them another trim and then once a month for the rest of the season. That’s how you get the pots to look full instead of straggly.

• Canada Day: Every July 1st there is a huge firework display within Wascana Park. People come from all over the city to enjoy the show. We usually wander over to The Albert Street Memorial Bridge and watch with our neighbors. My question is this: why do the same idiots, every year, bring their large breed dogs, especially a Rottweiler, into a large crowd when there will be startling sounds? The owners think they are so cool walking their one hundred and twenty pound canine (they’re not) and then the fireworks explode, and the pooch is twisting and turning to break away.

• Garden Tip: Every year, I hope that my Pink Wave Petunia pots will flourish in the shade. This year, as I have for many years, I placed two fourteen inch pots on the front landing. They looked great but after four weeks in that spot, they were anemic and losing color. I had to move them around back to give them some sun.

• Free: The most powerful word in the English language is the word free. People are always attracted to the word as well as the concept. Now that I have your attention, I have a few day neutral strawberries that I dug out of my garden. Every year I dig out lots and every year, they fill right back in. If you want some, send me an email. They have been good producers for me and hopefully the karma will continue.

• Do you know: I have my herb garden planted, but I am still missing two plants, rosemary and mother of thyme. Has anyone seen either of these two in the marketplace? Let me know. Secondly, I need a bit of repair work done on my eaves trough. I have never had good luck finding someone who will do a small job. Does anyone have a good lead or tip in this matter? Thanks.

• Garden Tip: It is time for the second application of lawn fertilizer. Apply five pounds to a thousand square feet and then ensure it is watered, either by rain or by irrigation. My two recommends that I have written about in earlier editions are 26 13 0 or 17 19 0 15 (the fourth number is sulphur). You can purchase these at CPS on McDonald Street, not far from Global Television.

Blue Oat Grass- a lovely addition to a perennial bed
 • Thought for the day: If you complain too often, all you do is teach people to quit asking “how are you?”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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