Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Garden Report #78

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

'Pink Spire' Flowering Crab in bloom
• Writers write: Writers write as climbers climb, because they must. I receive pieces of writing from new writers, asking for review. I don’t have many rules, but I do have a few. They are: a) if you have something simple to say, write it simply, b)do not overuse adjectives and adverbs, c)do not overstate your case, your readers are intelligent people, and d)remember that many can write, but few can or will edit. Editing is what separates the good from the better, and the best.

• Readers write:

• Ingrid Thiessen’ landscape design class is filling up. She writes “Thank you again for posting the fundraiser. Nine people so far! With your friendly reminder I am hoping to meet the twelve person minimum. What would I do without your extensive network?”

• Gwen Barschel is bullish on a café that I have never heard of called Kave Has. “It is a cafe, across from Luther college on Dewdney Avenue. Great homemade desserts, soups, etc. It may only be open for lunch and coffee, I’m not sure. The best coconut cream pie ever!”

• Marian Volpel recalls a departed teacher. “I also remember Miss Shirley Covey. She was Don’s cousin’s homeroom teacher, across the hall from my home room at Scott, circa 1958. I never had her for a teacher, but I saw her in the hallway every day. I remember her as being a soft spoken woman, but maybe not in the classroom. Enjoy The Garden Report.”

• Sandra Rayson is always the cheerleader. “Congratulations on The Garden Report on Saturday night. You are ahead of schedule on everything, impressive! I can see the divine inspiration in each Garden Report. The readers are happy, especially me!”

• Margaret Bessai is disappointed with the closure of The Indian Head Tree Farm. “Rod, thank you so much for writing about the decision to shut down the tree farm, and the cuts to the PFRA research centre.”

• Marsha Kennedy has not written for awhile, but she had lots of good things to weigh in on. “It was comforting when I saw your first Report after a long silence! Like many of your readers, I feel your Reports gather a community, joined together through your stories, and I thank you for that vision and the talent you have to create that feeling.

I adored your story about Miss Shirley Covey. I think we all have teachers from our past that we have never forgotten and some with regret. Your story allowed me to revisit my own memories of past teachers. Miss Deck, the kindergarten teacher at Athabasca School, now closed, was there for many years. Her image and essence are ever present in me. I have always wondered what became of her and if she is still alive?

It was good to see the call for gardens for New Dance Horizon’s Secret Garden Tour. My garden was on that tour last summer and it was a really enjoyable event as I met so many wonderful people. I encourage anyone with a nice garden to get involved with this very fun and rewarding event. I stayed outside and met so many interesting and nice people. Not only is going on the tour a rather magical experience, but hosting your own garden becomes a magical experience, as well. Gardens bring people together to share and tell their stories. After that weekend I was exhausted from the heat but had a great feeling of joy inside me.”

• Edie Friesen is writing for the first time. “Enjoyed your latest Garden Report as usual! That Easter meal that you were privileged to attend was just amazing!! My goodness, do those Ukrainian folks know how to put on a spread! Anyway, carry on your great work with The Garden Report, and all the best.”

• Many of you had your say about cabbage rolls. This in from Kate Berringer. “Great read again, Rod. I had the pleasure of tasting the cabbage rolls you made for the green room at the Fringe Festival a few years back. If you ask me, delicious should be the criteria used when evaluating food, not authentic. In other words, I couldn’t care less how authentic your cabbage rolls are, they were delicious!”

• My buddy from Fine Arts School, Penney Pike, has trouble sleeping. Here is her hilarious take on insomnia. She sent it during the early hours of the morning. “Those of us who never sleep, have the pleasure of reading The Garden Report before everyone else! That means we get our chuckle just before we try, once again, to fall asleep. Keep 'em coming!”

• Bobby Sue is always a fan. She makes me blush. “I just have to say, this is one of the most funny, entertaining, informative and thought provoking Garden Reports I've seen in awhile. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoy each and every one of them, make no mistake, and do look forward to them. But this one had magic. It was really neat, how I felt my emotions changing with each little topic. You know, Rod, I really appreciate reading these, as I sip my coffee and munch on delicious cinnamon raisin toast. This is the life. Thanks so much.”

'Jackpot' tulips cut from my garden
• The sounds of spring: We were out for a walk through the neighborhood on Saturday evening. The sounds of spring were everywhere. Wascana Lake is alive with the pulsating cries of the waterfowl returning from their winter vacations. Then there are the deep throated mating calls of the Regina male as he guns his motor on The Albert Street Bridge. “Vooroom, vooroom!” he goes. An occasional female of the species turns her head but she does not join him. She is waiting for the male to reach maturity. It is a long wait.

• Garden Tip: What can you be doing this week? Prune your trees and shrubs. Tidy your perennial bed. Lightly rake the lawn. Aerate the lawn if it is dry. Do not fertilize. Does your back ache yet?

• Of dreams and angels: I was deep asleep one morning and my lady came into my bedroom and held my hand. I did not wake up. When I did open my eyes, an hour later, I remembered how wonderful I had felt. My experience set me to thinking. When we are with a loved one who is passing over, it is important to hold their hand, until the angels arrive to guide them on their next journey.

• Garden Tip: While quite expensive, I have found it is money well spent to purchase a 100% rubber hose. The vinyl hoses kink and are difficult to wind up.

• My life with women: I was in Sunday School. I was six years old. This girl sitting across from me said in her princess voice: “Rodney. If you were not always so busy fooling around with Arthur, you wouldn’t always be in trouble with teacher.” It was the alpha, not the omega.

• Time is moving along: I had a wonderful customer who has long since passed away. His name was Paul Groome and he was ninety-two years young. One day, he was in the garden center, looking for a spruce tree. I showed him the smallest ones I had. They were twelve inches tall and priced at ten dollars. He looks at me and says “for Christ’s sake man! I’m ninety-two. Show me something I can see!” He bought a three to four foot tree which meant I had to drive him and the tree home in my truck. Surprisingly, he planted it himself. As an aside, his brother was Roland Groome, the first pilot in Canada with a license. Regina Airport is named Groome Field, after Roland.

• As old as we feel: One of my all time favorite gardeners and customers was Sandra Whittick. She lived to be a grand old dame, passing at ninety-three. She drove a 1967, red, convertible Mustang at one point in her life. I asked why she drove a sports car at her age. Her answer? “Because, I am a sporty grandmother.”

• Sandra’s garden tip: “You can never add too much peat moss into Regina soil.”

• CBC Two: I don’t listen to a lot of commercial FM because it can be very repetitive. My car radio is usually turned to CBC Two. I am exposed to music I have not heard before. Last week, driving along, I heard a group that specializes in baroque music. Except, they had left their comfort zone and recorded Leonard Cohen’s ‘Susanne’. The soprano was at the upper end of her range, the sound was pure and simple. The singer allowed the complexity of the poetry to shine through. By the time the song had finished, my eyes were moist. After first hearing it forty-five years ago, ‘Susanne’ still allows me to touch her perfect body, with my mind.

• Garden Tip: Most of your garden maintenance can be carried out with four basic tools. They are a fan rake, a three pronged cultivator, a ‘d’ shaped edger and a broom. Of course, you need a few more tools but those four can accomplish many of your tasks. For pruning, three tools are required. A good pair of hand pruners (secateurs), a pair of loping shears and a curved saw.

• Oh, to know it all: When Number One Son was twelve, he took a Red Cross course in babysitting. He was leaving for his first job and his mother said “if you have any problems, just give me a call.” He responded “but Mom, you didn’t take the course and I did!” Not only did his mother have three kids at this point but she had been a nurse at ‘Sick Kids’ in Toronto.

Glory of the Snow is a fall bulb that emerges early  spring
• First up in the spring: Glory of the Snow. This is a bulb that is planted in the fall. It is one of the first bulbs to emerge every spring and because of its early arrival, it is appropriately named Glory of the Snow. This photo came from a fellow in Portage, seeking identification. Thanks to my Dutch friend, Frank Van Noort for his assistance.

• Congrats: Reader Jeanie Freeman received one of The Mayor’s Arts Awards recently. Jean is known to most readers as an actor, playing the role of ‘Grannie’ on Corner Gas. But to those of us within the writers’ circle, Jean is first and foremost, a writer. Her stories on Definitely Not The Opera (DNTO) are hilarious.

I will never forget the evening we celebrated Johnny Sandison’s fifty years in the broadcast world. There were six speakers at the head table to toast the man. Five winged it, speaking in an off the cuff fashion. All five died a slow death in front of the audience of twelve hundred, stammering, stuttering and flopping. Jean was the last speaker. She had everything written out. I was so proud of her that evening. The writer. Prepared. Organized. Succinct. Funny as all get out.

• I was young, once: I was twenty-four, working at The Senator Hotel in Saskatoon to put myself through university. One night I had a table with people in their fifties. When the beer flows, so do the stories. After sufficient lubrication, one fellow announces to the group that he has no problem making love to his wife every night. Being twenty-four, I thought to myself: “What? Only once a night!” Now that I have sailed through my fifties, I know the ‘every night’ claim was the beer talking.

• I was young, once #2: I was sitting across from a young man of twenty-four. We were having coffee. He complained to me that his father had recently chided him for making a major decision without consultation. The twenty-four year old felt that his dad had crossed a line. I listened. I told him that I agreed with his father and that most dad’s would take the father’s side. He was less than thrilled to hear my opinion. The point is simple. When we are faced with major choices, we are always better served to reflect with someone else than to act impulsively. There is a an adage that applies here. It is: Act in haste, repent at leisure. I am this young man’s age, twice over and then some, and I have learned that it is in my best interest to counsel with someone who I respect, before finalizing a big decision. Having written that, it is a fair question: Did I ever act impulsively in my younger years? Most readers, have shared in that answer.

• Backbones of the community: Every community has them. They are the backbones. They get things done. Chad Jacklin is one of those backbones of 13th Avenue. He is always doing something to improve the street. Chad has been involved in installing the new bike racks along the street. The bike racks were designed by Cathedral artist Heather Cline. As busy as he is with partner Marlo in their two business’, Mysteria Gallery and Artesian Performance Hall, Chad finds time to keep things happening in Regina’s boutique shopping district. Two other interesting facts about Chad. First, he is a brilliant artist, creating sculptures from discarded objects and second, he is a reader of The Garden Report.

• No backbone: There are a few merchants along 13th Avenue who contribute absolutely nothing to the community. I know. I have approached them personally, on several occasions, asking for their assistance in various forms for The Fringe. Nothing. Not a minute of their time, not a corner of their store, not a dime of their money are they willing to donate. They contribute nothing to their own Cathedral Village Arts Festival. They give back nothing, but rest assured, they take everything they can. While they do nothing to benefit the community and the ambiance along 13th, when it comes time to sell their property, they will be the first to claim a high price due to the intrinsic value of being situated in the buzz of Cathedral. Leech is the word that best describes these merchants. I am so tempted to out them for what they are. Sadly, in every community, there are the givers and there are the takers.

Bearded dianthus
• Garden Tip: Larry over at Sherwood Greenhouse sent along the photo of the bearded dianthus. His comments include: “A bearded dianthus has a rather unusual flower. When our customers first see it, there are only two comments ever used:1. Yuck, that's ugly. 2. Oh, it's funky, I want one. The comments tend to portray our client's age.”

• To be from Philly: My mother was a baseball fan. As a young girl, she played. As an adult, she cheered. In 1975, I took mom to see a few big league games. We took in the action at Orange County, home of The Angels. The Angels were playing Philadelphia and mom decided we should cheer for the home team. We had good seats along the third base line. As the game progressed, a rather loud gentleman, sitting two rows down and eight seats over from us, made it clear, he was a Philly fan. By the third inning, mom and the Philly fan had exchanged a few words. By the fifth, it was not going well. In the seventh inning, mom stood up and told her nemesis, “you guys from Philly don’t know squat!” What made this exchange incredibly off the wall is, that if offered a million dollars, I doubt if mom could have placed Philly on the map.

'Marie Victorin' Explorer Rose
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in the Regina sunshine.

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