Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Garden Report #74

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

In Regina, we like to garden in formal attire
• Writers write: What constitutes landscaping? There are those who would limit their view of landscaping to lawns, trees and shrubs. Others would include decks and patios. I have always maintained that everything on the outside of the house should be within the definition of landscaping, including the color of the paint and the position of the eaves trough. Everything that is visible and even that which is underground, must be considered when making landscape decisions.

Case in point. A fellow over on Montague Street painted his fence panels many years ago, in alternate colors of black and orange. It appeared to all passing by, that his house was a tribute to the A and W franchise. So, what type of tree should he have planted in his back yard? Trick question. He needed to rethink his paint choices for the fence before any tree decision could possibly matter.

When we were picking the stain color for our front steps, we took a shingle from the roof and matched the stain. Why? Because everything ties together. Landscaping is of a much larger scope than most people ever imagine.

• Readers write: This in from Heather Lowe. “In regard to volunteers. I've often wondered why people who suffer boredom, find time long or are looking for friends, don't volunteer at something. If they only knew how needed volunteers are and how appreciated they would be, life would take on a whole new meaning.”

     • Jennifer Cohen asked a question that perhaps some readers could answer. “If you ever happen to find a coffee shop which offers snacks not drenched in sugar and fat, please let us know. I usually bring a tub of yogurt because there are no healthy alternatives.” The Greenspot on Hamilton Street has some very healthy food as well as decent coffee.

     • Murray Wallace suggests when making Yorkshire pudding, that the eggs be at room temperature. Thanks for the tip, Murray.

     • Georgia Hearn was full of compliments. “You are too funny! I laughed out loud, by myself, at a couple of your anecdotes. Love it, Love it!”

     • Roberta Nichol enjoys a back and forth story. “I have to say, you could in your Garden Report, print nothing but conversations you and Maureen have and I would be happy. These anecdotes are hilarious! Absolutely hilarious! You put George and Gracie, Sonny and Cher and Lucy and Ricky to shame.”

     • Susan Rollins is doing a spring dance of joy. “I see some of my grape hyacinths are coming up. Yippee!”

     • Reader and long time friend, Neil Vandendort over at City Parks was pleased. “I really enjoy reading it. I appreciated your comments about the tree pruning...and the photo.”

     • This from Lynn Goldman. “Love the photos of my beautiful street! Even now, with the bare trees and patches of snow, I find it beautiful.” The photo of the tree pruning was courtesy of Jack Tunnicliffe.

We take snowblowing seriously in the prairies
     • Dave Calam liked the joke about snow blowers in #73. Here is his response. “Friends with benefits?

Mandevilla in bloom

• Readers write #2: In last week’s Garden Report, I printed a copy of a letter that I received from Catherine Parker, without editing or comment. In her letter, she vehemently opposed my take on The Dangerous Offenders’ Act. Three readers responded to her letter. Each of the three letters were similar in their opposition to her stance. I am printing only one, as they are so similar. This response is the last take on the subject, as I have no desire to have a war of words break out here. Both sides have had their opportunity. Now it is time to move on.

     “I read the letter from Catherine Parker and couldn’t disagree more. Some people should be locked away and never let out until they prove they are capable of living in a civilized society. The dangerous offender designation is only used for people who have already proven themselves not fit to live among us. Also her argument falls apart with the statement that they will “inevitably'” be released. Not so. They will be held until they are no longer a danger to society. They are only designated as a dangerous offender after they have shown by their own actions that they cannot be trusted to be let loose on civilized society. If they are locked away forever, then that is the proper result of their own actions. If they are capable of being rehabilitated then that would have happened during previous incarcerations.

     Also taking shots at you for being white and living in Lakeview only demonstrates her own prejudices. And I too won’t hide behind anonymity.”

Signed GORDON F. SINNETT , Regina

Even Murphy enjoys putting on The Ritz
• Garden Tip: It is perfectly okay to rake your lawns when the weather is this nice. With the raking of lawns, spores from the fungi ‘Snow Mould’ will be released. This time of year is always rough on people with allergies, as moulds are being released from their winter captivity. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for the appropriate medication. I empathize with those people sneezing and scratching. I am one of you, even though most would think after thirty-five years of working amongst plants, I would be immune. Rest assured, I am not.

• Iris’ wanted: Reader Billy Patterson is an enthusiastic gardener on a budget. He would like to plant a few iris’ this year. Does anyone have some that can be divided and given to our young friend. I gave all of my iris away three years ago, so my cupboard is bare.

• Sweet Bakery: I stopped into Sweet Bakery and Coffee Shop at College and Broad last week, to see my long time friend, Helen. Helen is the owner and the baker supreme. She makes such a fine baking powder, cinnamon biscuits, that a visit to her place is always enjoyable. Surprise. Helen has sold her establishment to a Korean gentleman and she has returned to her former job at Eddie Bauer’s. I visited with the new owner briefly, and wished him all the best.

• Plum Garden: This Chinese food establishment advertises quite a bit and I thought it might be time to check it out. I ordered Sunday supper from there. Nothing special. Lemon chicken, pea pods and beef, that sort of fare. It was okay. Not great, not bad. The standard in our city is Peking House or Angkor, and Plum Garden did not compare.

• Garden Tip: Lynn Tomkins asked this pertinent gardening question regarding the spiraled, white, plastic tree wraps. “Can the white tree wrap be reused next year? When do you think we should remove it?” The answer is the tree wrap can be reused next year and for several years after that. Do not remove them until the end of April.

• We were all young, once: When Maureen was a young nurse, she worked at ‘Sick Kids’ in Toronto. She had a roommate who was in the bloom of youth. She knew everything. They were at a party one night and a skinny, blonde girl was playing the guitar. The roommate took the guitar away from its owner and showed her how it should be played, properly. The skinny blond guitar player? Joni Mitchell.

• Ricky’s All Day Grill: This place is a chain and I seldom frequent chains, but our Liver Lovers’ Club held a dinner there. The liver, the bacon and the onions were very good. The veggies were fresh, not canned or frozen. The dessert was a cheese cake that was first rate and large enough for two. We all left stuffed. My only complaint were the fries. They were amongst the worst I have ever had. The other guests ordered the mashed potatoes and their report was they were very good. As it was a function, we did not receive menus so I have no idea what else is on the menu.

• Garden Tip: Trevor Langen asks a good question. “I have a question regarding roses. When should I be removing the protective covering from my rose bushes?” The answer is not yet. It is an unusual spring and there could be a cold period yet.

• Farmers’ Market: It’s open again, at The Community Center on 13th Avenue. Saturday mornings except this one coming up, the 31st. It will be only open 9:30 ‘til 11:30. It’s not the whole gang from the summer but enough of them to make it worth your while. Linda’s pickles, Mila’s butter tarts, fresh tomatoes, eggs and beef, and then a bit of organic cherry juice from Lumsden to wash everything down.

• Oh yeah, right: When Number Three Son, his birth certificate says his name is Patrick, was five, we went shopping for a Christmas present for his mother. We were in The Southland Mall and we walked by a jewelry/gift store. Inside their walls, they had as a floor display, a pair of giraffes. They were bronze or copper giraffes, well made and about three feet tall. They were approximately, the same height as Patrick. Did I mention they were twelve hundred bucks, for the pair? He insisted, that we should purchase these for mom. I asked him how he knew she would like them. He told me with absolute sincerity, “she’s always talking about them. She said that she really, really, wants these for Christmas.”

• Tree banding: A few people have emailed, asking who they can call to do this task. Here are the numbers of two people who I know will do it. Rick at 347-0104 and Wade at 761-0114.

• Let’s get drunk and cause some trouble: Last year’s riot in Vancouver was one of the saddest days in Canadian history. If we ever had any moral high ground, we lost it that day. Apparently, we were not finished. In London, Ontario, last Saturday, there was a St. Patrick’s Day riot. Fueled by testosterone and beer, the lads managed to destroy a fair chunk of property. There was no protest involved, just having a bit of ‘fun’.

     We in Regina are not without our inglorious moment. At our ever popular Cathedral Village Arts Festival, we used to celebrate the last day with a family street dance. It was a great evening, filled with friends and neighbors boogying to a live band. I have no idea how these things get started, but one year, a few high school boys got into a mix-up. What started as a lovely evening deteriorated quickly. And it happened the next year, as if it were supposed to be a rematch. If they wanted to scrap, why couldn’t they find a vacant lot but no, the middle of 13th Avenue was their venue. Not surprisingly, the organizers threw in the towel and cancelled the street dance. After all, who wants to be responsible for a street brawl.

     In retrospect, a bunch of us should have grabbed these punks and made them the star attraction of a dunk tank. All the small kids could toss balls at them until they slid under the water. Of course, there would be no charge to the kids. Then we should have mailed photos of the miscreants to their families. Grandma would have been so proud.

• I’m not tough: We were out for supper. A ninety year old woman approached me. She said “you’re Bea’s boy.” Yes ma’am, I’m still ‘Bea’s boy’. We were talking about mom. I told the woman that people who think I’m tough should have met my mother. She made me look like a putz. And if you wanted to meet the toughest one in the family, my grandmother, right off the boat from Glasgow, at five feet tall, made everyone else back down. Tough broads in my family.

• Danny Bhoy: A great show from the Scottish comic Saturday night. For trivia fiends out there, Danny Bhoy got his start at The Fringe Festival in his home town of Edinburgh in 2001. Now, he packs in audiences as he performs on different continents. Where’s this leading? Jodi, over at The Regina Fringe, needs billets for this summer’s festival. Perhaps, you could be hosting the next international celebrity.

• Destroying culture 101: First, SCN, Saskatchewan’s Storyteller was gutted. No longer did we have a channel that told out stories. We now had to rely on programmers in Toronto to decide what it was we wanted to view. Now, in the new budget, the Film Tax Credit has been revoked. Film production for the most part, will be relocating to other provinces. As the production companies move, so will our talented editors, actors and producers. Those who support the removal of the Film Tax Credit suggest that the film business is not self supporting. Some same it is. I won’t argue either point. Has anyone else noticed that art galleries such as the world class Norman Mackenzie, classic theaters such as The Globe, The Regina Symphony, the public library, the university, our provincial parks and day cares are not self supporting either? Come to think of it, bridges, roads and hospitals are not self supporting. They all require taxpayers money to keep them operating. We set aside a portion of our tax money to fund cultural, educational and recreational events because it is the right thing to do. The film industry is an important part of our cultural landscape. It allows us to represent who we are as a people. It gives us our collective voice. Our stories need to be told and by us.

• So true: My sister, when she was a young, single girl, had a poster in her suite. It read: ‘The more I get to know men, the better I love my dog.’ On behalf of all of the men out there, I apologize.

Getting the crop ready a few springs ago
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in snowy, spring time Regina.

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