Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Garden Report #57

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Pink peonies from my garden
• Writers write: Regular readers know that The Regina Fringe Festival is this week, July 6th to the 10th. It has been a tough haul for the festival. First, getting the thing launched in 2005, and then getting performers to stage their shows here. Here is the bottom line. Winnipeg and Edmonton draw performers from all over the world. There is a huge waiting list to get into those two festivals. Why? Because there are supportive audiences in Winnipeg and Edmonton. Artists actually have an opportunity to make a few dollars for their efforts. Fortunately for us, some of those top performers from The Edmonton and Winnipeg Festivals have decided to showcase their talents at The Regina Festival. Each ticket (and they are only ten bucks) goes directly to the artists and trust me, they do need each ticket sale. But that is not the only reason you should take in The Regina Fringe. The real reason is much simpler. It is the best theater in the world.

• Readers write:

     • Finding someone to do a small repair on the house is always a difficult proposition. Reader Jennifer Cohen empathizes with that search. She sent this note along: “Please let me know if you manage to get an eaves trough fixer...and good luck.” Rod’s note: So far Jennifer, no one has called me back. Surprised?

     • Laura Harris is performing at The Toronto Fringe this year. Each year, she promises to make it to Regina but so far, no Laura. She did send this sentiment along from The Garden Report. “ I hope you are well and your garden looks lovely!”

     • Mike Liske from The Classic Landscape Company is tired of the rain but he does see an opportunity. This is his new business plan. “I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to get into the business of ark building...once the ark is built I'll gather up 2 of every kind and I'll set sail.”

     • This response from Morag Hurn. “Hello Rod, yes free always gets my attention, I would love one of your strawberry plants. I have been wanting to plant some. I think they are really pretty in a garden, and taste good to boot.”

     • “Rod: Loved this issue. Many of my friends that I have shared The Report are now hooked. I would agree...the iris, bleeding heart and poppies are spectacular this year. My poppies are about 6-8" across and the most fabulous orange you have ever seen. The only problem is that everything is about 10 inches higher than normal.” Georgia Hearn

     • Reader Jeanie Freeman is back in town after a tour of England, Wales and Scotland. The real question is not did she have tea with The Queen, rather, did she bring us any Licorice Allsorts?

     • Chris Pasterfield weighed in with his experience regarding Taylor Motors. “Must add my good news to your Taylor Motors serial as yours is a predominately good news blog. We have purchased six vehicles from Taylor Motors and haven’t had a terse word with the organization on tire and parts repairs, warranty work…”.

     • Roberta Nichol has enjoyed the running commentary of ‘God Bless St. Mary’s.’ She writes: “Kate Berringer couldn't have possibly said it better re: St. Mary's Church. To me, what she said about Christ embracing ALL people, was bang on. I think that's what has turned me off of most organized religion. Too much judgment among so called Christians.”

     • Sharon Nowlan is a Regina actor who is now living and working in Toronto. She is also a big fan of The Garden Report. She sent this note along: “It's a great year to be at the Regina fringe! Hope you're able to see some shows. I just finished doing the Montreal and Ottawa Fringe with Canuck Cabaret; now off to Toronto. But my heart will be at the Regina Fringe!”

• One of my favorite people is Peggy St. Goddard. I should send her a bill for that statement. She is a regular reader. Recently, Peggy wrote that she received some excellent service at one of the box stores in the east end. She did not mention which one. She also had this to say about tires: “My husband and I have 5 vehicles - in regards to tires, we too have had nothing but great service from Graham’s!”

Flowering crab in bloom
• Garden Tip: Reader Jack Tunnicliffe appreciated the tip on how to reduce mosquitoes. Here it is again. On Sunday morning, we were having a brunch outdoors and then planning to work in the garden for the remainder of the day. One problem. Lots of ‘skeeters’. I poured concentrated Trounce into my hose end sprayer, set it at fifty mils per liter and gave the garden a quick spray. It is organic, easy to apply and it works, unlike those ‘miracles’ you read about on the internet.

• Garden Tip: It is a good idea to fertilize all summer long, your bedding plants and newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees. I use a water soluble 10 30 20. I have had good results with it. If you cannot find that one, try a 15 30 15 which is more common.

• Short but effective: So the story goes, Winston Churchill was asked, after the war, to deliver a motivational speech at a graduation. He was expected to speak for some time, perhaps an hour. He stood up and delivered these six words: “Never, never, never, never, give up.” And he sat down. It took a few moments, but the enormity of what he had said sunk in and he was cheered by his audience. Love those Winston stories.

• Garden Tip: It is time to remove the bands from your elm trees. Actually, it was time three weeks ago, but I have been busy reminding you of other things to do. If you leave the bands up for too long, it will soften the tree bark. Not a good thing.

• Garden Tip: Best time to water? As the sun rises. Seriously. Worst time to water? When it is so stinking hot that you create a steam bath for your lovely pansies.

• Old school service: Bob Anderson at Concept Media and I have been doing business since 1971. You can assume that we have an ‘established relationship’. Bob has done all of my printing and layout work for The Fringe, Lakeview Gardens and my theater productions. He is one of those old school business people who says “I can do that for you” and he does it quickly and well.

• Times change: When Bob (from above) and I connected in 1971, printing was not what it is today. I will never forget Bob being so excited when he got a high speed printer with a metal printing plate on it. The excitement was because he no longer had to work with paper plates. He showed me his new toy and said “I can attach the printing plate, fill it with ink and paper, press this button, step back and watch it print five thousand copies!” Bob now tells me that what he produces in a day would have taken eight people to print thirty years ago. The magic of computers.

• Blooming this week: There are bushes all over the city with white blooms. The bushes, or at least the mature ones, are five to eight feet tall. They are mockoragne. Mockorange are predictable bloomers. They put on a great show every year from June 25th ‘til July 10th. If you cut a bouquet of the flowers, and leave them on your kitchen table, the next morning you will be greeted with the aroma of oranges. Thus the name. Roses of every description are in their full glory, especially after a thirty-four degree day. Can I have a hallelujah?

• Love it: Fresh basil is finally growing with the aid of the recent heat. I adore it in so many of my dishes. I have not tried it on porridge yet, perhaps tomorrow. My spearmint has taken off and found its way into some sun tea. The first batch of strawberries has turned red and have been consumed. Love my prairie fresh strawberries.

Ivory Halo Dogwood-newly planted, not full size
• Salt you say: Yep. I am still on my high horse about the levels of salt in processed foods. I was in Safeway on 13th this week. I picked up a package of sliced roast beef, turned over the back label and read the information. 43% of your daily salt! That is not a misprint. Three thin slices of prepared roast beef on one sandwich, and you have just ingested half of your recommended daily intake (including the bread and the mustard). Why do they do this, to us? Food companies can’t sell us food laced with morphine or heroin, but they can load us up with enough sodium to keep The Titanic afloat.

• The final say: For three weeks, there has been a thread here regarding Taylor Motors/Michelin Tires. The manager of Taylor’s has sent this response, which I have left unedited. It is time to move on to other things, so this will be the last posting of the subject. Taylor’s know how deeply they alienated me four years ago as a customer, but there are always two sides to every story. Here is theirs. “I’ve recently become aware of the thread about Michelin Tires/Lexus and with your readers’ permission I’d like to weigh in with comments from Taylor Lexus. Most important, I want to apologize for the comment from our service advisor. It was inappropriate and I invite you to call me at your convenience to discuss this further. Second, I see some follow up comments on the blog about tires and I would like to offer the following… vehicle owners are sometimes surprised when they read their owner’s manual to see that the section on Tire Warranty refers them to the tire manufacturer and not the vehicle manufacturer. No tire warranty information is provided. In fact, dealerships are instructed to refer customers to the tire manufacturer for warranty concerns. REPLACEMENT tires are different and Michelin offers a “limited warranty, which covers defects in workmanship and materials for the life of the original usable tread, or for 6 years from date of purchase, whichever occurs first”. For the 2007 model year Lexus Canada was including Tire Road Hazard coverage with the vehicle purchase. This provided you with 3 years or 50,000 kilometres of Lexus coverage. While you were within the mileage allowance you were outside the time allowance. It is important for your readers to also know that tire warranties only remain valid with scheduled tire rotations. Taylor Lexus has not seen your 2007 vehicle for service in your 4 years of ownership but it is safe to assume that your mechanic has been doing these rotations for you. Thank you for allowing me to respond to the comments on your blog and I again invite you to call me at your convenience if you’d like to discuss this further.” Dale Kane, General Manager, Taylor Lexus Toyota Scion.

• Great ‘rag’: One of my favourite magazines is ‘The Gardener for the Prairies’, published in Saskatoon. The new edition (Summer of 2011) has a wonderful article on hostas, one of my favourite plants. There is also a mention of The Garden Report, as they enjoy reading it at their office. They wrote “He offers his insightful and often amusing thoughts on gardens, food family and philosophy. Always a fun read.” Contact information was published and now we have many new readers, all courtesy of our friends 250 kilometres to the north. And a big welcome to our new readers.

• Zen: Maybe this is me being too Zen but here goes: Most of us avoid burdens. They are heavy and uncomfortable to bear. Yet the weightlifter seeks out heavy objects to lift, so that he can become stronger. Perhaps our burdens, make us stronger? Okay. Now go drink some herbal tea, grab your copy of ‘Howl’ and chant ‘om’.

• Class act: A few years ago, I was at a party and the conversation turned to The Regina Pats during the early sixties. I mentioned that as a little boy, my favorite player was Norm Beaudin. The party ended and life went on. About three weeks later, I received a letter with an autographed photo from the aforementioned Mr. Beaudin. He is now living in Florida. He thanked me for my ‘fan support’. One of his cousins had been at the party and had relayed my comments. As a former ten year old, I was thrilled.

Cranes feasting on my native ferns
• Speech, speech: I think I speak for all gardeners when I write: the early morning sun with the birds singing, makes getting up much easier than when the winter solstice surrounds us.

• Cute and true: We have to end this Garden Report with a cute but true story. I don’t know why, perhaps it is an obscure law. In 1975, I was substitute teaching for a month at George Lee School in the north end. The teacher was on medical leave and I got a month’s work. It was a Grade One Class, not really my forte. Regardless, there I was with thirty, six year olds, runny noses and all. I had one kid who knew some choice language and he used it regularly. I got notes from parents about his specialized grammar. One afternoon we were doing a basic exercise. A is for apple, B is for butter, C is for cat and so on. When we arrived at the letter ‘F’, his hand shot up and he was screaming “I know! I know!” I took a deep breath and said “Okay…why don’t you tell us.” To my great relief, he announced in a clear and loud voice, “F is for effort.” Close enough.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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