Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Garden Report #73

Regina Avenue panorama
Sunday, March 18th, 2012

• Writers write:  When I was a young man, I thought that elderly people became more spiritual because they were preparing to die. I was cynical. As a man well in to the September of his life, and as someone who has become increasingly spiritual, allow me to set my own record straight. I have increased my spirituality because I have seen the hand of God in my life many times. I do not believe in coincidences and happenstance. So, if anyone is a time traveler, look me up when I was twenty, and tell me that I said I was wrong.

• Readers write: Jackie Arnason had this to say: “ I read your comments on Dangerous Offenders and must put in my two cents worth. I think everyone is entitled to one mistake but after a second serious offense, I believe we must draw the line. None of us have had perfect childhoods but at age eighteen, we are certainly old enough to make a choice to change. If we continue to condone the excuses that childhood neglect, abuse, etc are responsible for bad adult choices, there will be no incentive to change. The same applies to committing crimes while drunk. Keep up the great work - because of The Garden Report, I can garden to my heart's content and never get my fingers dirty.”

     • Georgia Hearn likes to see something different. “Another entertaining Garden Report. We all look forward to it and so glad it is back. Keep it up and I love the social justice issues and respect that you are not afraid to speak you mind.”

     • Catherine Parker strenuously objects to my take on Dangerous Offenders. I have included her entire objection, without editing or comment. “Usually I enjoy reading your Garden Report. It contains interesting garden related advice and anecdotes on a variety of topics.

     As I read your comments about the dangerous offenders clause, I wondered if I was reading a Conservative Party newsletter (or listening to one of the US Republican Party's debates). I wondered if you had given any thought to what happens when the individual tagged as a 'dangerous offender' is released, as inevitably the person will be. What about the concept of rehabilitation?

     It saddened me to think that you could so easily think that "less than ideal child rearing is an obstacle to be overcome." If this were so easy, I imagine that we'd live in a far different world than we do where the cycle of poverty continues from one generation to the other. Or, as a well-off middle-aged white man, do you think these are people who just haven't tried hard enough to overcome the obstacles that are in their paths? How simple it must seem from your lovely Lakeview neighborhood to pontificate on criminals and, at the same time, give a tacit nod to the Crown for wanting to keep a person in jail for longer than their specified sentence. Civil liberties, anyone?

     I sign my letter in the event that you classify my comments as coming from a poisoned pen,

Signed - Catherine Parker”

     • Heather Lowe had this to say. “My sentiments on the issue before the Crown align with yours. Of course, as you know, you will never get all your readers to agree with you on a topic like this.”

     • Marcus Fernando added this: “In reply to your opening comments about young offenders, here's a little saying I came across which might just be appropriate:

          "When I was a boy, I blamed my youth for what I did.

          Now that I'm a man, I blame my childhood."

     Says it all, really! Meanwhile, I am continuing to do my gardening in Groznjan with a pickaxe and shovel. No subtlety to be found yet, but it keeps me fit!”


     • New reader Judy Woidyla wrote in. “My sister-in-law forwarded me your Garden Report #67. Very interesting read, thanks for all the info.”

     • Ingrid Thiessen has opinions on what should be included in The Garden Report. “As always, I loved the photos...but you can't send clematis photos without the nitty gritty details. I have tried to grow clematis in less than ideal conditions on a south facing garage. Plants can make fools of us all. The clematis will survive for three or four years and then die out. So why do I try again and again in the same location? I know the roots are to be shaded, but I think the lack of snow cover on the south wall, probably does them in. Tell Sharon how much I admired this photo not only for the beauty, but for the skill, because I know it’s not so easy growing clematis.”

     • Wendy Richardson is ready to garden in London, Ontario. She writes: “It was 61F here today, sunny and beautiful, and I started to think about my garden! Thanks for doing The Garden Report as it is very entertaining and I love the connection with Regina.”

     • Reader Joanne Crawford wants to try my pancake recipe. “I am a lousy cook but I think I will try this recipe. If you recommend it, I know it must be good. However, my cooking skills challenge even the most tried and true recipes. The photos in your Garden Report provide hope for a brighter and more beautiful day, although today is looking pretty good.”

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman is reading this in Ireland. She wrote a poignant note. “Hi Rod. I'm taking an unexpected trip 'home' to Ireland at the moment, due to my Dad's illness. The Garden Report provides one of the rare reasons to smile these days, thank you. Here on the Wicklow coast, the daffodils, crocus, bluebells and heathers have been blooming since I arrived three weeks ago. On my daily walk yesterday, I noticed that the fabulous magnolias were in flower; a glimpse of our wonderful life in the middle of sadness. What a wonderful world, indeed.”

We have our own definitions: I read the phrase ‘friends with benefits’. To me, that means I can borrow your snow blower when mine breaks down.

• March Madness: It has been a very, balmy March here on the prairies. I washed my car on the front drive on Thursday. The first time that has ever happened in March. If the early spring continues, do not forget to band you trees to prevent the invasion of canker worms. If you do not wish to do this messy job yourself, there are several firms or individuals that will do it for you, for a fee. I am not one of those individuals. Also, do not remove any winter coverings including leaves or peat just yet. That would be rushing the season. Let your plants wake up slowly.

Pruning American elms along Angus Street
• Great photo: The panorama of Regina Avenue is courtesy of my wonderful neighbor, Jack Tunnicliffe. Jack also provided us with the shot of the tree pruning along Angus Street. The trees being pruned are all American Elms (Ulmus americana) planted in the 1930’s. Elm trees cannot be pruned between April 1st and August 31st, by law.

• Garden Tip: Many of you have been given a Spring Bulb Pan. The question I am asked is: Can I plant this in my garden? The hyacinth and the crocus or crocii for the particular, are not hardy for Regina. In other parts of the country, they are. The tulips and the mini daffs are hardy and they can be planted. Here is the kicker. In the greenhouse trade we say ‘once forced, always spent.’ The bulbs in your Spring Bulb Pan do not have a very good chance of reblooming. However, if you must plant them, just to see if they will grow, plant the tulips eight inches deep and the rest around five inches. Every now and again, something will pop up but don’t bet the farm on it.

• Living with a woman is more difficult than I thought: It is still winter here on the prairies. The dryness has caused my heels to crack. I am in the bathroom, rubbing some body lotion into my feet. The bottle of body lotion is always sitting on the bathroom sink. In walks my Missus. Here is the conversation.

Her: What are you doing with the body lotion?

Me: My heels have cracked.

Her: O.K. but you don’t use body lotion on your feet.

Me: Why not? My feet are part of my body.

Her: (Sighs) No, no. You always use foot cream on your feet.

Me: Do we have foot cream?

Her: Yes. In the bottom, left hand drawer, underneath the shampoo I bought for my sister.

Me: Why did you buy shampoo for your sister? She lives in Toronto. She can buy shampoo lots of places.

Her: This is her brand and it was on sale. You don’t know anything about sisters, or foot cream or living in this house, do you?

Me: You’re right. I have no idea what happens here.

Delosperma 'Fire Spinner'
• Garden Tip: Hans deJohng who owns Paridon Horticultural in Surrey, B.C. sent along the photo of the Delosperma. Hans writes that this is a dwarf plant and that it was incredibly popular last season. It must be noted that this plant does not have a prairie hardy rating on it. Rather, it has a Zone Five which means that most gardeners in this area will lose it. As with all plants, some will take the risk and succeed.

• Volunteers rock: I am a volunteer with The Kidney Foundations’ annual, residential fundraiser. I am not hustling you for a donation. What I want to tell you is this: I have observed that the best thing about being a volunteer is working with other volunteers. Saskatchewan is well known for its community supporters, whether as small town firefighters, hockey coaches or someone who knocks on doors to raise funds. Volunteers definitely see the glass as half full. Every now and again, when I hear or read that someone ledges that we are not very friendly in Regina, I wonder to myself, if they have ever taken the time to volunteer. If they had, I doubt they would be lacking in friendship.

• Regina Folk Festival: If you have not already heard, Emmy Lou Harris is headlining this year. The festival is always a great gig, something we have attended since 1969. The magic happens August 10th -12th in Victoria Park.

Clematis growing in Regina
 • Garden Tip: Here are the basics for growing beautiful clematis plants. They were submitted by readers Murray and Sharon Wallace. A photo of their incredible clematis (clematii) was published in #72. “1.The clematis are on the north fence line facing south, and have the sun all day. 2.They are watered once a week and we try to use the water from our rain barrel. 3.In the spring, I dig into the soil a granular fertilizer that is made for clematis from bone meal. 4. I save leaves in the fall (dry)and spread them over the roots in the spring. I like the look of the leaves as a ground cover.”

• Recipe time: I have advocated the serving of Yorkshire pudding in a previous column. It bears repeating. There was a time when roast beef was usually accompanied by Yorkshire pudding. Not anymore and I don’t know why. It is so incredibly easy to make. Mix together one cup of flour, one cup of milk, three eggs, half a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of garlic powder or dill. In a preheated oven of 375 F., place your twelve unit muffin tin that has half a teaspoon of butter in each compartment. Take the muffin tin from the oven after five minutes and distribute the pudding mix to the muffin cups. Place the tin back into the oven for five minutes at the 375F. setting and then reduce down to 350F. for twenty-five more minutes. The oven is usually pre heated from the roast, which should be resting on the counter, wrapped in tin foil. Jodi Sadowsky, our producer of The Regina Fringe, was over for supper Sunday last, and she enjoyed this meal. My roast which was a cheaper blade roast, was baked for five hours at 200F., which is often referred to as the ‘low and slow method.’ Very tender. Very good.

• Garden Tip: As we move into the spring and melting snow, remember that large puddles of water are not good for your basement or your plants. It is a good idea to move snow and water away from your foundation and from valuable plants. Puddles of water will not damage a forty year old tree. It has survived much worse. But newly planted roses and perennials can suffer from too much H20. If you are having trouble with ponding, perhaps this is the year to hire someone to address those issues.

• And the point is: My friend was teaching Grade One Sunday School. He told the children of the battle between David and Goliath, and asked the class what was the moral of the story? One six year old boy announced “the moral of the story is Goliath should have ducked.”

Spring tulips from my garden-last year
 • Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in lovely Regina

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