Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Garden Report #69

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Canadian Artist Rose 'Bill Reid'-photo courtesy of Peter Harris
• Writers write: Community is important to me. I write and speak of it, often. I brag: I live in a wonderful neighborhood. One of our regular readers is starting out, in a new house in a new community for her. She asked how she can create a wonderful community around her? The simple answer is: It only takes one person to get the ball rolling and many will join in. The easiest way is to organize either a pot luck supper or a block party. That gets people talking and next thing you know, no one is a stranger. You are all neighbors now. Does it work? Come the 26th of this month, we will have been living on this corner (two different homes) for thirty-nine years. What’s our neighborhood like? How’s this: For my birthday party in September, we had a community pot luck supper at our place. I had a great time with sixty wonderful people.

• Readers write:

     • Georgia Hearn remains positive. “The Valentine sentiment touches my heart and makes all of us appreciate the need for laughter. We could use more of it. And to think, after Valentine's, spring is not far away.”

     • Mike Liske from The Classic Landscape Company enjoys customers who plan ahead. “You are very right. Now is the time to prepare for your landscape project.”

     • Heather Lowe had this to say. “I agree with Gursch…perhaps you have outgrown the name of your blog….I’ve wondered that for awhile. Not that I have a better suggestion, mind you.”

     • Marian Donnelly wants artists to know that there is a submission process in place for a mural to recognize the 1912 tornado that swept across Regina. If you need more information, I can forward you her contact address.

     • Gail Aubin of Carman, Manitoba always sees the bright side of life. “Always nice to get this newsletter in February, to remind us that spring is around the corner.”

     • Joana Cook is working in South Africa these days and has been accepted into the PHD program at King’s College, this September. She wrote “Good to see The Garden Report coming out again. It's a great way to keep on top of (and keep me a bit grounded with) Regina.”

     • Jan Pederson in Winnipeg has a sense of humor. He wrote: “Your police (former paperboy) story has provided endless laughter around the house.”

'New Day'
• Garden Tip: Larry over at Sherwood Greenhouses runs a very clean operation, filled with many of the newest plants being introduced to the market place. Here is one of his top picks. “ One of my favorites for 2012, is a new series of gazanias, called ‘New Day’. They show much larger blooms and have thicker stronger stocks. The advantages of course are, more color and less prairie wind damage. This series also has a breakthrough in breeding, producing a lovely, completely clear true orange flower. Yes, not a sign of the traditional dark centre ring in the blooms.”

Canadian Artist Rose 'Campfire'
• Garden Tip: Michel Touchette from Jeffries Nursery in Portage, sent along a photo of a tri colored rose being released in 2013. This one is called ‘Campfire’ and the photo shows the progression of color changes. It is a part of The Canadian Artist Series and it is named to honor one of Tom Thompson’s paintings. Michael also noted that with the release of the ‘Bill Reid’ rose this year, that this one is an improved version of ‘Morden Sunrise’. 

Cheryl's 'Aerogarden'
• Garden Tip: Reader Cheryl Geiger-Paul sent along photos of her ‘Aerogarden’. She has had these herbs growing for only three weeks and they have really taken off. They receive around sixteen hours of artificial sunlight a day.

• An alternate universe: Many years ago, I had a customer ask me to provide a quote. He wanted me to cut down four large trees in his back yard. The trees were in good shape. I asked him why? He said that the trees interfered with his view of the park. I said “so you want me to cut down these four trees so you can look at other trees?” He responded with a ‘yes’. I refused. He found someone else. I think there is a moral to this story. It is: If you want to do something stupid, you will always find someone to join you in your mission.

• The older we get, the more we become: When I was a young boy, perhaps eight or nine years of age, my mother and I were out for a visit on a Sunday evening. I can’t recall who we were visiting, but we were somewhere around the corner of 13th Avenue and Wascana Street. My mother began chatting to a woman over her side fence about her garden. After a two or three minute chat, the woman invited us into her kitchen. I asked my mother if we were related to this woman or how we knew her. My mother told me we were not related. They had just met. My mother was a farm girl and no doubt this woman was also a farm girl. Regina, in the 1950’s and 60’s was still a collection of farm people, a glorified small town. I learned an important lesson that night. The basic adage: A stranger is only a friend who we have not yet met.

• Becoming our mothers, Part #2: In 1975, I was twenty-three years of age. My father was deceased, my siblings were working, so my mother and I went to California on a two person, family vacation. We were in Los Angles and my mother began a conversation with a woman her age. The woman lived in L.A. They quickly became new found friends. The woman asked my mother to join her at a singles dance for people of their age group that Saturday. I was flabbergasted that we had only been in L.A. three days, and my mother already had a circle of new friends. And to boot, she was going dancing on Saturday night. You see, I was way too cool to talk to anyone. So I remained aloof, waiting for the world, (and the girls) to come to me. Need I write, I spent Saturday night alone with no one to talk to or to dance with? As I write this, I am now older than my mother was in 1975. I talk to anyone. I don’t care if we know each other. If I am in the grocery story, a conversation can erupt over the merits of the blueberries, their cost and quality. I no longer need a formal introduction to chat with someone at The Symphony. We have Dvorak in common. That is enough of a primer. I am no longer way too cool. I no longer wait for the world to come to me.

• Really?: I was at The Symphony last Saturday. A woman, closer in age to ninety than she was to eighty, engages me in a conversation. She informs me that she recently held a garage sale. She told me that she sold her skates and her skis. I was so tempted to ask her if she had kept her stripper pole or had that been sold as well. But I didn’t know how that one would fly. Morale of the story: Humor is important, but discretion, is the better part of living a long life.

Part of the 'Aerogarden'
 • A golden opportunity: Many of us go through life, wishing we had become an artist. Any type of an artist. Most of us, when given the chance, chose the more conservative side of life. We chose a steady job, a home life filled with the known. If you are one of those who have always wondered what life would have been like had you taken the road less travelled, risked everything for your artistic mission, you now have a chance to find out, albeit vicariously. A long winded approach, but here is the landing: The Regina Fringe Festival will be happening in July and they need billets. People to provide a clean bed in a decent home for travelling actors, who are exploring their dream. This year, there are 19 acts performing at The Regina Fringe, up from the usual 15 or so companies. We have been billets in the past and thoroughly enjoyed our guests. You don’t get any money, just a few comp tickets for shows. But you do get the opportunity to provide a safe landing for those people who are taking a chance, moving along the theatrical road, less travelled.

• Just so you know: I get emails every week from readers who ask me to add their friends to the list of Garden Report readers. I do that, assuming it is okay with the person to be added. If by chance, you were added to the list by a friend, and do not want to be included, that is okay with me. A short note, and you will be deleted.

• Garden Tip: At one time, begonia bulbs or more correctly, begonia tubers, were easy to find. Lots of colors and lots of choices. A great highlight for the shade. Not so anymore. Are starting your own begonia tubers worth the effort? Yes and no. Yes, they provide you with bigger plants, vivid colors and varieties not always available at greenhouses. No, because they are easily susceptible to overwatering, mildew and slugs. If you are going to grow them, now is a good time to start. Just remember the Achilles heel of this plant is too much water. When it is garden time, they do perform very well in raised pots or planters, which gives you more control over slug maintenance.

• Garden Tip: Now is a good time to be scouting out some new and different garden pots for this coming season. I have long been an advocate of container gardening because it provides the gardener with so many more options. Container gardening allows the gardener to put their best foot forward, displaying only the prime pots and hiding the less successful ones in the back garden. Containers allow the older gardener more opportunities, not having to bend over as much. Container gardens allow the gardener more control over the watering and the drainage, which has been a problem during the wet years. Do I practice what I preach? I ‘bang up’, my euphemism for planting, between forty and fifty pots every spring. To reduce the weight of my larger pots, I place in the bottom, old plastic pots and trays, and then fill the gaps with potting soil. My potting soil of choice is Premier’s Pro Mix. Best way to purchase it is in the 3.8 c.f. grower size. Usually, under thirty dollars for the bale. It fluffs up to be about double its size in volume.

Top grafted Little Leaf Lilac
 • Some people get it, some don’t: When I had my own greenhouse, I got a call from a woman representing Pasta Prima on South Albert. She was looking for some Christmas poinsettias. She asked my price and told me that she could get poinsettias for half that from Safeway. I said “let’s change the topic for a bit. How much would it cost me to bring a friend to your restaurant for lunch? Ten to fifteen dollars per person?” She confirmed the price. I then pointed out that I could go to Safeway and purchase a box of Kraft Dinner (which is a pasta) for only a buck. “But they’re hardly the same thing!” she exclaimed. My response was “so you do understand that quality is related to price then, right?”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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