Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Garden Report #68

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

A few tulips growing in my back garden, last May
• Writers write: Valentines’ Day is oh, so close, and as a self defined writer, I should be able to pen something equal to that of Hallmark quality. But I can’t. I am not an author of sonnets or of four line poems. I can offer this: After spending the last thirty years of my life with the same woman, I am pretty certain that love is having someone to laugh with you. I know that tears are a part of a relationship, but laughter is (or it should be) the bulk of any time spent together. When I was a young man, I found it difficult to laugh at myself. I had a need to prove my worth; and how could I do that, if I found chinks within my armor. Today, I laugh at myself. My armor has many, many chinks, and who cares. After all, us humans are pretty funny. We talk about the need to diet as we put the pie in the oven. We pass commentaries on the lives of Hollywood stars, who we have never met. We worry what others think about us, never realizing that for the most part, they don’t think too much about us at all. Yes, we are a funny lot after all. Just look in the mirror. That anti aging cream…did it really work? The new after shave I got for Christmas. Did beautiful women fawn all over me as I walked down the street? The best gift of love that any of us can give to ourselves and others, is to laugh, loudly and often.

• Readers write:

     • Readers like to eat, and they like to prepare good food. This email was from Denise Cook. “Hi there. I had to tell you that I tried your “chili” recipe out last night (at least that’s what everyone called it). It was a huge success and there were absolutely no leftovers, and I usually send leftovers home. I served it with homemade bread.”

     • Paula Grolle had a good laugh: “Reminder to myself- do not read Rod’s garden blog while drinking rum. I nearly lost a perfectly good mouthful of rum when reading “not a good idea”. My personal favourite is Oops!”

     • Lyn Goldman is always a fan. “It's good to hear from you again, Rod! And I loved the photos -- the yellow roses are exquisite; the garden makes me eager for summer; and the little dog is a gem! Welcome back.”

     • This short note from Cheryl Hutton. “Yesterday's report was a great read – thanks.”

     • Denise Mirva was also short and sweet. “I was thrilled to see the resumption of The Garden Report!”

     • Ann Anderson liked one story in particular. “Rod, as usual, I love to see your Garden Report pop up in my inbox. Your bicycle story brought tears to my eyes as I am just now peddling my bicycle away from Mom.”

     • Allan Bratt is steamed over the loss of SCN. Read on: “ I completely agree with you about SCN. It was a great loss to the community, not only as a way to showcase the talent in this province but as an incubator of that talent. As the president of the Saskatchewan branch of ACTRA, I can say we have tried to explain to the government that artists are among the boldest of entrepreneurs, who for relatively little seed money, will work like demons to give a return but somehow that message does not get through in the same way that it would if we were a potash miner. It is very frustrating.”

     • Actor and Fringe Producer, Jodi Sadwosky emailed: “Thanks for another great Garden Report. Wonderful to hear and feel everyone's excitement at its return. I love the Keg these days. Since it reopened its gotten better. Love the bike story at the end as well. Freedom - scary and exciting at the same time. So true.”

Our smiling reader, green house grower Michiel Verheul
     • Terena Murphy-Bannerman has been enjoying the milder weather this winter. “ Isn't it wonderful to be able to ramble around one's yard wearing a light vest, making planting plans and sipping from a glass of wine in February?” Terena also wants it known to all members of The Liver Lovers Club, that we might require the care of a competent psychiatrist. Should I include a LOL or is that necessary?

• Garden Tip: I have recommended for house plants at this time of year and for starting garden seeds, a plant starter fertilizer with the numbers of 10-52-10. Sadly, none of the independent garden centers are open, so reader and gardener Jean McKay went looking elsewhere. She finally found some at The Canadian Tire East. I rarely advise readers to patronize a box store but this appears to be the only option right now. If there are independents with this one available, let me know.

• The tale of two cappuccino/bakery shops: I really do not enjoy writing less than stellar reviews of independent shops in our city, but I can’t be a fake cheerleader either. I have now tried Le Macaron, located in the east end, three times. I have not been impressed any of those three times with their offerings, their service or their ambiance, which I found cold and impersonal. On a brighter note, also in the east end, just off of Arcola, on Woodhams Drive, there is a place called Brewed Awakenings. This place is worth seeking out. It has decent coffee, great desserts and they have some scratch soups with baking powder biscuits for lunch. The ambiance is relaxed and one of community. It has a good vibe, the staff have been fun to chat with and I have been a customer, seven times.

• Garden Tip: With snow on the ground, it is the perfect time to start planning your landscaping project. Whether you have an established yard that needs a new look or a brand new house on an empty lot, it is time for the plan. When I had my own shop, every April, we would get calls from customers wanting to book designs or installations. They believed that they were being early with their calls. They were surprised to find out that we were booked for the year. Many regular customers, booked in the fall, for the next year. So I am telling you this: It is not too soon to give either Heather Lowe a call at 545-1519 or Ingrid Thiessen at 529-4980. Both are very professional in their abilities to assist you with designing a beautiful garden or outdoor living space.

• More of Readers Write:

     • Jeanie Freeman had this to say about CBC’s Definitely Not The Opera: “ What glowing praise for my DNTO stories! Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement! I keep telling those CBC folks that I would have a lot more stories for them if they just weren't so insistent on the truth! As a dyed-in-the-wool storyteller, it's only under duress that I would ever let the facts get in the way of a good story! So that's why you don't hear me on there more often!”

     • I have been a long time fan of Gursh Madhur and all the fine work she did keeping Access Channel Seven broadcasting for many years. Gursh was the producer. She now lives in Winnipeg with her husband, Dr. David Barnard, who used to be The President of The University of Regina and now occupies a similar post as the head of The University of Manitoba. Gursh sent this note along: “I just spent time reading this and really enjoyed your insights and perspectives. I wonder if your blog has out grown the title? This is a wonderful blog on community. I too agree that it is a shame about SCN. Thank you for sharing this report and for being such an amazing force. You my friend, are a gem.”

     • Brad Crassweller was in Hawaii, surfing and relaxing in the tropical warmth. He read The Garden Report in Waikiki Beach and responded with this: “I read The Garden Report last night - my sentiments exactly on the vegetable garden thing. I think I need to get a garden going this year as well.”

     • Cheryl Geiger-Paul is a new reader and had this to say: “Hi Rod...I so enjoyed this Garden Report. I laughed out loud so many times as I read it to my husband. Thank you for your humor and little tips. Looking forward to the next report!”

     • The writer inside of Gail Bowen allows her to pen this complimentary thought. “ How lovely to wake up to you and the photos of the Artist Series Roses, Max and your garden. The lyrics from Hello Dolly say it all: "it's good to have you back where you belong".

Blue Oat Grass in the foreground
     • Marcus Fernando and Tina Hoffman, are expecting another child. The child has a Canadian component to his incubation. Read on: “I thought I'd lend your Garden Report an added degree of tropical glamour by informing you that I'm reading #67 in an internet cafe in Sri Lanka. The sea is but a few feet away. Indeed, I can hear the waves crashing from here. Palm trees are waving, and the flowers are (of course!) glorious. Tina, Pascal and I are over here exploring this most beautiful island...and digging up some of my roots (cultural, not vegetable!). I think it was a wise choice: while we bask in 38 degrees of heat, back home in the UK it is minus 12, and snow-bound! Did you get my message about Tina expecting number two son in July? We will definitely not be calling him ‘Edmonton’!! Mind you, ‘Riverbend’ has a certain ring to it!"

• A local plug: I have been renovating, decorating, repairing and cleaning the house, all winter. I have been blessed to have the always hardworking, Sandy Thiessen do the heavy lifting and the painting. We have painted quite a few rooms and we have been dealing with Colorburst Paint at Albert and Avonhurst. They are a Benjamin Moore dealer. The staff have been excellent in assisting us with the right paint and lots of good tips on how to do it better.

Dianthus and Sweet Potato Vine
• Garden Tip: When planning out your garden and containers, give some serious consideration to using a few dianthus plants. It is fairly easy to grow, provided you remove the spent blooms on a regular basis. That is the secret to growing this plant. Why I plant some dianthus every year is, it is one of those plants that make you smile. You cannot walk past blooming dianthus without finding a degree of amusement in these petite bloomers.

• Great to see: The Artesian on 13th Avenue has become a very popular place. Lots of theater, comedy shows, concerts and weddings. We needed a small, performing arts space within our community and now we have one. It is fully accessible with an elevator for those who need that service.

• This is not right: I wandered into our guest bathroom earlier this week. I’m not supposed to be in there, except for emergency purposes. Regardless, I was. To my great surprise, I found that the towel set in the guest bathroom is so much nicer than the towels in our bath. The guest towels are luxuriantly soft, incredibly absorbent and brand new, to boot. I would have asked the Towel Queen, why the guest towels are so incredible, but, I already know her answer. There would be this tone, yep, a tone, and the answer would be “because, they’re for company.” Ah…to be a guest in my own house. I can only dream.

A lovely landscape, south of Regina
 • Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald, from a beautiful, sunny morning in Regina!

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