Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Garden Report #62

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Morden Belle Rose is blooming this week
 • Writers write: Last night we took in The Regina Folk Festival. This is a cultural highlight of the year, something I have attended since 1970. The Folk Festival has changed over the years. It is now an eclectic group of performers and long gone is the emphasis on traditional folk. The audience has grown in size, too. There was a time when there was lots of room to spread out a blanket and kick back in Victoria Park. Last night, it was a sold out show and we were all quite cuddly with our neighbors. What has remained consistent is the good vibe of the festival. It is a gathering place for old friends. It is a coming together of like minded people and the hassle factor is very low. The festival format has always appealed to me. For the price of admission, the ticket holder gets a wide range of performers. And if you don’t particularly care for one performer, you are bound to enjoy the next. In every community, there are certain events that assist in defining a community. The Regina Folk Festival is one of those markers and has been for over forty years. A celebration of life.

• Readers write:

     • Wanda Bellamy sent this along. “Good morning Rod: Kirk & I sure had a good laugh visualizing the Cat & Vole chase! Thank you for starting our Sunday morning off with laughter.”

     • Lyn Goldman empathizes with chasing the cat in your underwear. She writes: “Funny story about you chasing Murphy! It reminds me of the night I was searching for my Siamese cat, Sundance, when I lived on Angus Crescent. About 2 a.m., I heard a plaintive call from the ledge above the neighbor’s garage door. I had to get the ladder from my garage to get him down. I was wearing my short nightgown! I did think the police might be called, but cat safety comes first!”

     • Penney Pike who lives in Calgary shared this: “ ‘Morning Roddy. Just finished this week’s Garden Report - great read as usual. Your story about chasing Murphy down the street in your underwear reminded me of the night I had to run through the snow in my socks (not just my socks!) to capture my escape artist cat. The pizza delivery man assisted me in the round-up, so needless to say, I tipped him 20 bucks. Fatso took great delight in leading us on a merry chase.”

     • Roberta Nichol enjoyed the cat chase story. Here is her thoughts: “Oh, God, Rod, I'm still howling. I'm breathless with hysterical laughter after reading about your big chase down Regina Avenue. That's the kind of story I will think about later on and burst out laughing again. And again, and again, that's the best one yet. The ill-fated beets story now takes second place. And you know, I would have done the same thing, had it been my beloved pet.”

     • Georgia Hearn also loved the cat story. Here is what she wrote: “Rod: Loved this edition. I laughed so hard, as I could actually picture you chasing the cat that was chasing the vole. Those clematis are gorgeous.”

     • Marsha Kennedy had this comment. “I had a good laugh about the French ‘exhibitionist’.”

     • This from Sarah Wills near Toronto. “Really enjoyed your newsletter this week. I wish I was one of your neighbors (and not so I could see you running down the street in your t-shirt and shorts!)”

• Garden Tip: One of the most useful garden tools is a pair of scissors. Seldom are they mentioned, but I have found scissors to be of invaluable assistance. When carrying out my gardening tasks, I usually have a pair in my back pocket and I am always trimming something with them. I use them all of the time to tidy up my containers so that they are even, I prune my tomato plants and move back the strawberries as they encroach on the walk way.

• Garden Tip: My good woman looks after the beer filled slug traps. She tells me that they are working just fine this season. As mentioned here before, she inserts a Styrofoam coffee cup into the garden soil, fills it with beer and the slugs dive in. This leads me to believe that slugs have some Irish blood in them. Especially when you realize they never attempt to climb out of the trap.

• Garden Tip: Another seldom mentioned item that has a multitude of uses in the garden are bamboo stakes. I use them to mark my bulbs so I don’t dig them up, I use them to hold up my tomatoes, I use them to stake my mandevilla and I use them to mark my sprinklers so that I don’t run over them with the aerator. My advice is to keep a good supply of them in your garden shed.

• Too strange not to be true: I got a phone call from Revenue Canada in Ottawa. The caller was asking for my GST payment, which was indeed late. I told him it was on its way, which was true. He asked me if I was “the Rod McDonald from Prairie Gardens”. I told him I was. He told me that he and his wife watch the show all of the time, in Ottawa. I gather a station there is broadcasting it. He sounded as if he was a real fan of the show. Gee, I wonder if I get a discount on my next installment.

• Sad but true: Last Friday’s wind storm here reached close to a hundred kilometers an hour. Lots of branches from my fifteen American Elms to be picked up but the real casualty was my native ferns. Many were plain old flattened and are now starting to brown off. Not really a tragedy unless you are a gardener.

• Have you noticed: Gardeners as a group tend to be optimistic because why would a pessimist garden? After all, everything is probably going to die anyways, right? Gardeners tend to be good cooks and they do love their food. Gardeners tend to be readers more than television watchers. Gardeners tend to share with others as they have learned that there is always more than enough to go around. Gardeners tend to persevere, growing something year after year until they get the hang of it. Gardeners tend to be opinionated, insisting that their way is the best way. Gardeners tend to work in their gardens well into their eighties and nineties, or until God calls them home.

• Cute: I was pruning the spent blooms off of my daylilies. I know that sounds a bit compulsive but they really did look better after I was finished. As I moved into one batch, I looked down and I could see one orange paw, that’s all. I pulled the cover of the plants back and hiding in the jungle was Murphy, my Irish cat. Just hiding, waiting for a meal to come along, or in this case, Dad.

• Good idea: One of my better ideas was to have a security system installed in the house, many years ago. We have the control panel close to the door for easy access and I also have a master control in my bedroom. It gives me peace of mind to roll over during the night and glance at the panel, knowing everything is alright. Another reason to have the panel in my bedroom was when the boys were teenagers. They would come home, after I was asleep. Disarming the control panel would wake me up which is what I wanted, and I would check the clock. Sound like a dad thing? One day at supper, I turned to Number Three Son and I asked what time he had arrived home last night? He was seventeen at the time. He told me “a little before midnight,” knowing that his dad owning a greenhouse, was usually asleep before eleven p.m. I told him that our control panel had a special feature. That I could scroll back and find the last ten entries and exits and did he wish to change his answer. He did. He now said it might have been “a little after midnight”. So I scrolled. The exact time had been 2:47 a.m. which is more than a ‘little after midnight’ and definitely past his curfew. It was at this point that our son learned that technology is a double edged sword. It can be used for good and for evil.

• Old school: When I was a teenager, my parents did not have technology available to assist in parenting. But my dad did have a watch and he did stay up until you got home and yes, I did break curfew twice. Once in Grade Eight and once in Grade Ten. Hardly makes me a rebel without a cause does it? I was grounded for the Grade Eight infraction and I got leniency for the one in Grade Ten. Funny how you remember that stuff forty plus years later.

My ferns before the storm
 • Not again: I have lived on this corner for thirty-eight years and we only have power outages once or twice year. That was until the last couple of years and now we are getting outages five or six times a year. We have had two this past week. One for six hours and one for two and a half. SPC (the power company) doesn’t seem to have a solution. I can’t help but to wonder if the outages are tied to the rise in our squirrel population. Apparently they short out power boxes.

Mandevilla-loves the sunshine
 • Garden Tip: I have often recommended mandevilla plants for hot, sunny and windy exposures. One of our gardeners, Audrey Drummond, has sent us a photograph of her thriving mandevilla, loving the sunshine.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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