Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Garden Report #58

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

A closeup of a 'Lady Slipper' Prairie Orchid
 • Writers write: The Garden Report has grown in its first year. We now receive, some weeks, thirty responses. I try to include as many as I can without redundancy. Readers should know that I do correct all spelling mistakes that I spot, and most grammar errors, without being ‘The Grammar Commandant’. As an aside, I have been nailed three times by readers for spelling mistakes and that is okay. It makes me a better writer. I also do something that is not always considered kosher. I have on occasion, fixed things. When someone sends in an obvious wrong word i.e. using spatula when they clearly meant spectacular, then I repair that mistake. I realize that one day, someone will take great offence. That is almost guaranteed to happen. I never change or omit the meaning or intent of a response and I always include ones that are critical or in non agreement. That’s how I do it. Just wanted that out there.

• Readers write:

     • Jeannie Freeman remembers gardens from the past. She writes: “HALLELULIA!! That's for the roses (especially the bushes of little yellow roses that grew on many prairie farmsteads and in town backyards because the pioneer women brought them west, along with their rhubarb roots). Halleluiah as well for the mock oranges, which I have loved ever since Bill and I could finally afford to move into our first rental house, on Retallack St. Our lovely old house had a mock orange by the front door, lilacs under the kitchen window, and a yellow rose bush by the back fence! Heaven!! I love your Winston Churchill story, and all his other quotes. A wise man.”

     • Laura Ross sent this along. “Good Morning Rod: Thank you again for The Garden Report. Summer has finely arrived in the Queen City. If you know of someone who would like to share some of their dark, purple irises, please let me know. I have come to really appreciate the look of irises in the garden. I think the fireworks this year were spectacular, a great way to end Canada Day. Thanks again for the report see you in the back alley.”… Laura

     • This arrived from reader Wanda Bellamy. “Good morning Rod & Maureen. It was great visiting with you July 1st. Please forward The Garden Report to my new email, we don't want to miss it when we move.”

     • Short but sweet from Kate Berringer. “Hallelujah! (as you asked). Also, love the Fringe too. I’m doing one volunteer shift this year and hopefully taking in some shows.”

     • Ken Alexe really enjoyed The Fringe commercial that I produced for the festival this year, as did many of you. It received a lot of air time. Ken wrote: “Your unique combination of skills and background as a TV producer and Fringe performer have, once again created a great product that has played extremely well with audiences.”

     • Alan Bratt is also a strong supporter of Bob Anderson, over at Concept Media. Here is what he wrote. “Greetings Rod: Ever since you recommended him, I have been taking my Fringe printing to Bob Anderson. Not only does he get the work done when I expect it, it is done before I expect it, and it is done better than I had imagined it. And he is real nice guy.” Rod’s note: Now, if only we could find someone in the eaves trough business, just like Bob.

     • Lyn Goldman is thrilled that the bloom is on her rose, and yes, I am playing with words. I am always pleased to read of another gardener’s success. Here is what she wrote. “I have roses blooming all over the place! Never had more than 3 or 4 before.”

'Lady Slipper' Prairie Orchid

     • Marsha Kennedy was the photographer for our prairie orchids in the attachment. She was at Cypress Hills. She had this to say as a way of commentary. “I saw lots of striped and spotted coral root and the conglomerate rock site was all in bloom with wild flowers. The photo attached is the white ladies slipper with striped coral was in the camp grounds where we camped. There was some rain but it was all worth it.”

Cheryl Hutton in a recent play
      • Cheryl Hutton out of Calgary, sent along a photo of a show she recently appeared in. She also had this to say about The Garden Report. “Sitting on our front porch, coffee in hand, Aaron reading a book, cat purring away between us, and me with my laptop catching up on a few weeks of Garden Reports. A perfect Sunday morning, truly. I was at a BBQ last night with some friends of ours and one is an avid gardener. He said he loves to share perennials, because you think of the person who gave them to you every year. Thanks again for your lovely writing. Love how you finish the reports with a cute anecdote or story. The last one of "F" for effort was made even better by your ability to always find the right button to the sentence. Ending it with "Close enough" made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that. Oh - and glad to hear you can't always salvage plants in the cold and rainy weather - makes me feel better about myself…”

     • Rhonda Rein is pleased that her tomato plant, which suffered greatly a month ago, has now improved. She writes “Thanks Rod! It was as if you read my question of the week for you! I was going to write in and ask you when we should remove the bands on our elm trees. So thanks once again for a very informative blog, love them and keep them coming! PS – also thanks for the tips on my tomato plants that were dying a few weeks back. Drainage holes have been established now and it’s looking great! See my attachment.”

     • Nathan Harvie is a new reader from Edmonton. This is his first response. “Just finished reading #57 a few minutes ago, entertaining as always! Thanks for putting me on the list.”


      • Bob Anderson didn’t mind me giving him a mention in last week’s edition. Here is what he had to say. “Thanks for the plug Rod – much appreciated. I read your newsletter weekly – always entertaining.”

     • Keith Carpenter lives in Vancouver and he is a regular reader. He sent this along. “I still enjoy all the insights to prairie living in your Garden Reports.”

     • Marcus Fernando writes about the over use of salt, from his home in Birmingham, England. “ I'd like to add my weight (what there is of it!) to your salt in food campaign. My problem is the salt which they put in food in restaurants. Every time we go out for dinner, I end up waking up in the night with a raging thirst. This, of course, never happens with home cooking. The reason is the amount of salt they add to the food, and of course they do this just to enhance the flavor of the food. Nowadays I'm so used to having low-salt cooking at home, that when I eat out I'm increasingly aware of the taste of the salt...rather than the flavor of the food. Unnecessary, unappetizing, and unhealthy!”

• Garden Tip: Once again, the creeping bellflower has taken over gardens in Lakeview (my neighborhood). I keep a clean garden, a very clean garden, but even I have to go on patrol, scouting this invasive plant. On Saturday last, I was canvassing and found fifty of this scourge, growing in my garden. You have to know where to look. Best to lift up plants such as peonies and strawberries and often, there are seedlings growing at the base. I even found four growing in my Snow on the Mountain patch, which is almost unheard of. Here is the problem: most people are not eradicating the plant. Some are even cultivating it in the mistaken belief that it is an ornamental perennial. As this plant has continued to spread, it is now dominating some yards. If you want to be organic, just pull them out by the root, especially before they flower and set seed.

• Garden Tip: In the country more so than the city, field columbine is once again a major problem. This plant was appropriately named ‘strangler vine’ by the people at The Classic Landscape Company. The plant weaves itself into ornamentals, and once that occurs, it is difficult to remove. Best to get it when it is young.

• Garden Tip: When the summer heat hits your yard, invariably there will be casualties. Best not to leave pansies or impatiens in the full sun. They prefer a bit of shade, as do your ferns. If your pansy pots stop blooming, do not despair. Simply move the pot or the container to a shady area, trim back the plants and they will start blooming when it cools down. Some years, they don’t rebloom until September, but what a great fall plant.

Persian Yellow Rose
 • Garden Trivia: Jeanie Freeman wrote in about the yellow roses that have bloomed all across the prairies, for a hundred years. Did you know that the name of that rose is ‘Persian Yellow’. It is very prickly, very tall and extremely hardy. Also, everyone please note: This rose was brought to Canada by my people. Yes, you read that correctly. Scottish immigrants brought the rose with them from the old country, as early as 1840. I would like all of the other ethnic groups to please say ‘wow’ in your native language. Thank you.

• Did you know: While the bulk of our readers are Canadian, we also have regular readers in fifteen other countries. Did you know that while most of our readers are from the broad, cultural mosaic, we have a very large number who are from the theatrical, writing and art’s community? Did you know that several of the largest greenhouses and nurseries in western Canada are regular readers and co responders?

• Oh yeah: Roberta Nichol wrote in this week, insisting that I know next to nothing about women. And her point is?

• Could I have a second chance: I was fifteen years old and the legendary Luella Lovering was my Grade Ten English teacher. She was in her seventies and had been teaching for a very long time. I actually adored her, but I would never have admitted that to my buddies. She was a fine teacher. One day, she was returning assignments that had red marks all over them. They were grammatical corrections. She was attempting to soothe our battered egos by saying “Keep writing and don’t worry about making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. I should know, I am not perfect.” There it was. You heard her! She said “I am not perfect.” For whatever reason, I decided to help her along with that assertion, her being an English teacher. I said out loud (with forty-five years of regrets) “Did you know that when you write on the chalkboard, you never dot your ‘I’s’ or cross your ‘T’s’?” It was about two seconds after I spoke those words, that I realized how wonderful it would be to have a time machine, reset the clock and delete what I had just said. Apparently, she did not appreciate editorial critique. Can you spell detention?

• Garden Tip: There are several Mountain Ash that are not doing well this year. Too much rain. Mountain Ash prefer well drained soil. If your tree has yellow leaves that give themselves up easily, then it should benefit from a dose of iron chelate, often sold under the trade name of TruGreen. Note to yourself: Do not plant a Mountain Ash in a low lying area.

• Garden Tip: I have been asked to look at a few lawns that, in spite of our rainy spring, are showings signs of dehydration. There is a simple explanation to that apparent contradiction. There was so much snow this past winter, between three and five feet in many yards. That much snow is a heavy weight on the lawn below. Compaction occurs and water, even lots of water, runs off. Easy remedy. Aeration. Do not listen to the idiots out there who say that aeration is strictly a spring thing. You can aerate a lawn any time of the year. It will open up the soil so that water, air and fertilize can percolate down into the root zone.

• More six year old humor: Best joke I ever heard from a Grade One girl? Q. What is the difference between broccoli and boogers? A. Grade One boys don’t eat broccoli.

• Thought for the day: If I take the time to count my blessings, I have less time to complain. Now go drink your herbal tea.

• A true prairie boy: Ron Atchison was a legend as a Saskatchewan Roughrider football player. He played from 1951 until 1966. Ron and his wife Brenda, were regulars at Lakeview Gardens and I always enjoyed my chats with Ron. After all, as a little boy growing up on Dewdney Avenue, I thought Ron and all Roughriders walked on water. One day we were talking about his career on the field. He said “some of us get our fifteen minutes of fame in one lump and for me, it got spread out over several years.” He told me that he rarely went back to Taylor Field, that he didn’t want to hang onto something that no longer existed. Ron was always kind and humble when we spoke. After football, Ron made his living from something he really enjoyed. He was a carpenter. He worked with wood. He was a prairie boy, through and through. Ron passed away about a year ago.

• Garden Tip: For those of you new to tomato growing, it will assist your plants if you prune them. Tomato plants that have been pruned are stronger and will maintain their fruit in an upright position.

• Love clean: We had a quick supper at 13th Avenue Coffee House in between Fringe shows on Saturday night. The food is always flavorful there but that is not what I want to talk about. I had to pee. I hate, I absolutely detest dirty washrooms. Their washrooms were spotless. I like that. I knew you would appreciate the sharing.

• Garden Tip: Visiting with one of our readers this week, she has a pot of floppy geraniums. I showed her how to pinch the blooms off, once they are spent. She is reluctant to do this, as are many of you. I will say this as clearly as I can: If you want beautiful geraniums, become a ‘heavy pincher’. You are doing the plant a favor by removing blooms, past their prime. This is not a theory. I have done it for years and it produces the finest of geraniums.

A new lawn - well watered
 • Way to go: Chad Jacklin, who has been renovating The Artesian on 13th Avenue for almost two years now, has done a fantastic job. He has been very creative in his alterations to the building and it is a special place for performers and audiences.

• Fringe Festival: The Regina Fringe was well organized and a real treat to attend as an audience member. Kudos go out to Jodi Sadowsky for all of her efforts as the Producer. We love The Fringe for its sense of democracy. Performers ranged from seasoned veterans who have performed almost everywhere, to those who are on their first outing. We witnessed the genius and brilliance of Jem Rolls, Rob Gee and Colin Godbout. One of our Regina readers, Alan Bratt, had a show this year that he had written. Its theme was how we treat the elders within our community. He pointed out that when we turn people into objects, then we do things to them, rather than things for them. It was very well done. If you are reading this on Sunday, there is still time to catch a show or two as this is the last day.

A new lawn left unwatered
 • Fringe folklore: Maureen and I started organizing Fringe Theater in Regina, back in 1998. Our first endeavor was to bring in Shannon Calcutt in ‘Izzy The Clown’ and John Huston performing ‘Shylock’. Some of our readers will remember those early beginnings. Both shows played back to back on a Friday and Saturday night in March. We had to plead, cajole and beg to get seventy patrons out for Friday and fifty for Saturday. Fringe was so new to the people of Regina that there was one lady who thought it was a ‘French Festival.’ We went on to produce nine more Fringe weekends under the name of The Regina Knot-a-Fringe Theater Group. We operated under that name for legal reasons. If you were a part of our family, it was mandatory that you ‘volunteer’ to work at these shows. My brother in law and youngest son ran the lights, my sister ran the box office and the rest had to take tickets and usher. We produced these weekend events until The Fringe Festival officially started in 2005. Now we clap and cheer.

 • Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in sunny Regina

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