Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Garden Report #61

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

• Writers write: I was up early this Sunday morning. I had to do a bit of work at a ranch south of town. As I drove through the city, the evidence of Friday’s midnight storm was strewn about. Branches everywhere. Someone once said that windstorms are Mother Nature’s method of pruning out the weak branches. She did a very good job, even if she did not clean up the casualties. Dotted though out the blocks of houses were gardeners. The diehards were out, cleaning everything up in true gardener fashion. Gardeners persevere. It’s what they do.

Sharon's garden- Jackman's Purple Clematis
• Readers write:

     • Jean Freeman passed this story along: “I'm off to the bus for Saskatoon to see Love's Labor Lost and A Winter's Tale at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. God bless STC, on behalf of us who don't or can't drive, yet live in this province of vast distances and fascinating places and events that so often are taking place, way over there!"

     • Terena Murphy-Bannerman sent this report from France. “Hi Rod; just finished reading your July 17th report. I am in the middle of rural France and do not frequently have access to a computer. I spend a couple of weeks every year with old friends here who were practicing the organic lifestyle, before it became fashionable. Yves and Michele grow all their vegetables and preserve them for winter. They get together with neighbors to kill and dress the meat from community-raised animals, and they live simply but very well. Yves has a huge garden where the veggies are interspersed with flowers, as his father and grandfather passed down that hint on pest control that still works today. Huge dahlias beside the Haricot beans, roses beside the potato plants, etc. It has been a wet July here, and you should see the size of the slugs we picked off the lettuce today: maybe we could cook them with lemon and garlic for dinner?”

     • Marsha Kennedy writes: “Good morning Rod. I was in New Dance Horizons’ garden tour last weekend. I wanted to share my garden, not only to help NDH, but because I was enchanted when I went on my first garden tour some years back. I spent the remainder of the week catching up in the studio and went outside yesterday, to see that my garden had gone astray during a few days of neglect. I must get in their today.”

     • From Victoria, this bit from Sally Orr. “I thoroughly enjoy reading it every week.”

     • Jodi Sadowsky likes humor. “Thanks for The Garden Report. Too funny re: the dragon flies!”

     • Roberta Nichol wrote “I absolutely love walking in the Lakeview neighborhood. There are so many friendly people, walking their dogs, or simply out gardening in their yard. I am in love with several houses in the area, and how they have implemented their perennials. Wow.... just gorgeous.” Roberta is also an enthusiastic supporter of Classic Antiques at 1920 Francis Street (just north of Victoria Avenue).She reports that Anita and Doug Hutton, who operate the store, are very good at what they do.

     • Kristi Liske has been noticing the insects this year. “After many weeks of examining the flies and mosquitoes that have come into my yard and sadly, into my house, I was happy to see the dragonflies arrive for dinner. The arrival of these fine insects left me wondering.....have all the flies and the mosquitoes injected steroids this year? They are huge!”

     • Lyn Goldman has a restaurant recommendation. “I love your note about Winner's! And I found a new restaurant for you -- it's called Dynasty and it's beside The Wingate Hotel on Broad Street. Great Asian buffet, so fresh that they won't let you put something on your plate if they're on the verge of replacing it with a fresh batch. Please thank the head of the dragonfly committee for me, too.”

Police on the bridge trying to slow things down
 • A picture is worth many loud mufflers: A number of neighbors have been filing complaints with City Hall and with The Police Service, regarding the speeders and loud mufflers coming across the bridge. The police service has responded  and reader Jack Tunnicliffe provided us with the photographic proof. Here’s hoping we have a quieter summer.

• Garden Tip: This is a repeat of a repeat of a repeat. Found another lawn that needed aeration. The weight of last winter’s snow has been too much for most lawns to handle. Compaction issues are showing up this late because we had such a rainy, cool spring. If you want a recommendation, here it is: Call Drew (586-0828) at Mr. Caretaker and he will aerate your lawn. The price varies as to the size.

• You can look but never buy: I was at a store called JYSK. They had on display, two smaller desks. Both suited my needs. I tried to buy the first one. They had none left in the back. I tried to buy the second one. They had none left in the back. “How about I take the floor model?” I asked. Nope. You can only buy a floor model if it is discontinued. So I said to seventeen year old kid who was assisting me, “This is indeed an interesting game we are playing. I can look. I can choose. But I can’t buy. Why are your doors even open?” Stunned by my devastating logic, he mumbled, “Uh…that’s the way we do it here.”

• Garden Tip: It appears to be a good year for roses. One of the best things that a gardener can do for their roses is to remove the spent blooms. This encourages the plant to set new buds. If you are not certain as to how far you should cut the blooms back, there are many excellent books on the market that have illustrations. I have also found that roses in our area enjoy a shot of iron chelate. Iron chelate ensures that my rose leaves maintain a healthy, dark green appearance.

• Interesting: Over the years, I have had an opportunity to travel throughout the province, filming gardens. I have visited with people who have little income, and their gardens flourish. They make use of compost and they obtain their plants from friends and neighbors. They produce a great show and spend little money. I have also visited with people who have spent many thousands of dollars and they have very little to show for their money. The point which I assume you have already figured out, is: Regardless of the amount of money you spend on a landscape, in order for it to be a beautiful garden, it requires the loving hands of someone who cares. Money does not buy a garden, but love creates one that is priceless.

• Garden Tip: It is time to fertilize your trees, shrubs, perennials, hanging baskets and annuals. As recommended here, use a water soluble such as a 10 30 20 or a 15 30 15. Those ones have been very good for me over the years. As a cutoff date, I try not to fertilize any of my permanent plantings after August 15th. That allows the plant to harden off or prepare for the winter. I do fertilize my annuals and hanging baskets late into the fall as they are not staying for the cold months.

• She had it in her: Congratulations go out to reader Shawna Bell on the arrival of her baby boy. Shawna, along with her parents Wilbert and Sharon Ronald, operate Jeffries Nursery in Portage la Prairie.

• I understand: I was attending a national greenhouse conference a few years ago in Toronto. The convention sent a van to pick us up each morning. On the second day, I was seated beside a well dressed gentleman. I introduced myself and then asked “what brings you to this conference?” His accent indicated that he was from Quebec and that English, was definitely not his first language. He told me: “I am here as a visitor. Next year, I wish to be here as an exhibitionist.” I didn’t correct him. “ Yes, next year, I wish to have a chance to expose myself to many people.” If you think that was funny, you should listen to me speak French.

• Best year ever: What you ask? Is it a flower, a vegetable, a herb? Nope. It is the Canadian Football League. I have never seen so many close and well played matches. That’s it for sports, and now stay tuned for the weather.

A dragonfly eating a mosquito on Brad's arm
 • Very tasty: Have you ever noticed how many people who love to garden, love to cook? They seem to go hand in hand or if I wish to be fancy, they have a symbiotic relationship. So, my patio tomatoes are bearing lots of fruit and I needed to use up five ripe ones. I chopped the tomatoes into quarter inch chunks, added in two tablespoons of chopped, just harvested, Walla Walla onion, lots of fresh basil, oregano and a touch of mint. Dressed it with a splash of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, ground salt and ground pepper. Served it as an appetizer and received five star reviews from two people, besides myself. Shameless self promotion, but it was tasty, in a scintillating manner.

• Every neighborhood has one: I have always maintained that one of the best things about living in Lakeview is that we take great pride in our local lunatics. They provide us with color. I think I have crossed the line and I might now be in that group, the group the neighbors chat about. Friday night, I was on my way to bed at eleven. Then I remembered that I had not yet let Murphy, my dear Irish cat, in for the night. Every evening, he likes to take a constitutional walk along the brick pathway in the back garden. Usually, he greets me at the door but this night, I could see him chasing a vole across the neighbor’s lawn. I called to him. Of course he didn’t listen. He’s a cat. The vole ran out onto Regina Avenue with Murphy in hot pursuit, something that he has never done before. I gave chase, wanting to rescue him, which I did. He is safe. So where is the color you ask? Uh…I was on my way to bed and all I had on was my jockeys and a t shirt. There I was, running down Regina Avenue on a Friday night, in my underwear, chasing a cat who was chasing a vole. The really sad part is, I was completely sober. The neighbors did not call the police. They said “it’s just Rod.”

The gohers like to get high around our neighborhood
 Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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