Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Garden Report #83

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Canadian Artist Rose 'Emily Carr'
• Writers write: Just when we think we are the finest gardeners in all of the land, Mother Nature makes fools of us all. That is a paraphrase of reader Garfield Marshall. It applies to this past week. Gardeners all over the city were anxious, last weekend, to get their bedding plants into their spots. Window boxes were filled with geraniums and pots with Wave petunias. And why not? It was so nice. Operative word being ‘was’. Every year, it is a balancing act between late frosts and getting what you want before things are sold out. I empathize. It is one of the major elements that ensures gardening on the prairies is always a challenge. Those poor unfortunate souls who garden in more moderate climes. What challenge do they have? They go to their local greenhouse in March, buy their bedding plants and put them into the ground. They never have to cover them up with sheets because it does not dip below zero. What fun is there in that? Three years ago, I had my fifty (yep, I had fifty) pots planted up and on full display. Then the temperature followed the dictum of what goes up must come down. There I was, running all fifty of those precious babies into the garage. My Mrs. knows that at this time of year, I reserve the right to expropriate our garage anytime I deem necessary. “Save the plants!” I shout. “Save the plants!”

• Readers write:

     • Jodi Sadowsky was short and sweet. “Thanks for The Garden Report. Very informative. That tomato soup sounds wonderful!”

     • Joanne Crofford is decidedly funny. “Although I love the text and enjoy reading the varied offerings, I find sometimes my impatience leads me to scroll down to the photos. Must be the same urge that causes some guys to go straight to the center-fold. It's kind of a no-brainer. I was rewarded today with that young human sprout blossoming toward another summer of sunshine, play, and freedom from snowsuits that only happens outdoors in the Saskatchewan summer. Thanks again.”

     • Noelle Chorney had this to say about the box stores selling non hardy trees in our province. “How is it progress to plant trees in Saskatchewan that won't survive here? That's so...turn of the 20th century. So much for Percy Wright, Les Kerr, Patterson and the rest of them. I guess all their breeding efforts were for naught.” The names mentioned by Noelle are of famous plant breeders who lived in Saskatoon.

     • Marsha Kennedy weighed in on the box store issue. “I couldn’t agree more, Rod ,with the concern that so many box stores are carrying plants. Yesterday, I took a visit to Sherwood and came home with a lot of plants. The horticulturist at the Sherwood was very helpful when I was selecting some plants that I had never had before. They also bend over backwards to be of help. One can get many cheaper plants at box stores but they just don’t have the variety that you want once you really get into gardening. It also becomes important, as you say, to support the real nurseries so they don’t disappear. I also like to head out to Marianne’s organic nursery. I love it out there and her prices are very reasonable. I just like to be around people who love what they are doing. The people who have dirt under their finger nails and have a real interest in the success of their plants and the people they serve.”

     • Sandra Rayson continues to accentuate the positives. “Thank you for continuing to produce lovely Garden Reports. God has given you a special gift of fortitude, despite difficulties.”

Holly aboard Snowball
     • Neighbor and reader Laura Ross sent along the photo of her granddaughter Holly. Holly is involved in a therapeutic riding class and her favorite horse is Snowball.

     • Gwen Barschel wants us to know about a hstorical event this summer. “Another event, commemorating the anniversary of the Regina Tornado, is a play entitled ‘Swept Away’ , presented by Regina Summer Stage. Did you know Boris Karloff was in Regina at the time, and is portrayed in the play? All the characters in the play are based on real people who were in the city at the time. It is an original production, will be held at the Regina Performing Arts Center on July 10-14.”

     • I have not heard from Candace Holmstrom for quite some time. She has been busy, in her garden. “After spending much of the day outside, my untrained gardening back feels like it has about forty raspberry thorns in it right now. I was replanting my irises. I walked towards the fence and was only a few feet from a robin that seemed completely comfortable, perched, and just kept chirping away to me for several minutes. Eventually the sheep manure called me away. Baaaaa, baaaaaa, baaaaack to gardening!”

Jack's tree coming down
     • Jack Tunnicliffe lives two doors south of us. He has several spruce trees in his back yard that were planted in a row, sometime during the 1960’s. They have now become a hazard and he has had to have several removed, before they crashed during a storm. Jack sent along some photos of the tree removal.

     • Chris Pasterfield lives across the street and he is a graduate of Central Collegiate Institute. He writes “I must say this was an exceptional Report but anytime you bring up Central C.I., you are guaranteed a reaction! So on behalf of the five Pasterfield tads who went there, ‘Go Gophers Go’!”

• Garden Tip: My mentor was Dieter Martian, recognized within the nursery trades as one of the best horticulturalists in the country. Dieter’s favorite instruction was: “Don’t try to grow plants where they don’t want to grow.” In other words, don’t be putting sun loving plants into shady areas and wondering why they didn’t work out. His second edict was: “When in doubt, we go to the forest for Mother Nature is the greatest teacher of all.” He is a wise man and a good gardener.

• Wisdom: Dieter and I were in Victoria at a hort conference. We were out for a walk and an elderly gardener was working on The Lieutenant Governor’s garden. The gardener explained to us that he was planting sedums and how they enjoy the sun. He took several minutes to tell us what he knew. All Dieter said was “is that so? Is that so?” When we walked away, I asked Dieter why he had allowed the gardener to lecture us, when Dieter had written the book on perennials? His answer? “The man had a story to tell and I let him tell it.” As I wrote above, he is a wise man, and a good teacher.

• Garden Tip: To create bushy tomato plants, simply pinch the terminal (top) growth off. This forces the plant to devote energies to growing outwards. Then, pinch off some of the lateral (side) buds to force the plant to become really stocky. Stocky plants support big tomatoes.

• Gone to the cats: My favorite spot in the garden is the swing. I love to take my coffee out there, rock a little and meditate upon life. Murphy, my elderly, Irish tom cat, joins me on the swing for a scratch and a cuddle. As we grow old together, he likes to be rubbed a little, but not too much. Too much attention and he starts that low, guttural growl, letting me know enough is enough. I am starting to duplicate Murphy’s behavior. You can cuddle me a little and give me a scratch behind my ears, but not too much. I too growl, when I have had enough.

'Bridal Wreath' Spirea
• Fringe Festival soon: The Fringe is coming in early July. They need billets to host some of these incredible travelling artists. We have hosted, several times, and always enjoyed the experience. If you have a spare bedroom, let me know. I will hook you with the dynamo that runs our Fringe, Jodi Sadowsky.

• Casino food, bleah: I don’t frequent Casino Regina, or any casino for that matter. I just don’t see gambling as entertainment or fun. The Baptist in me just had to come out. Now that I have that off my chest, I had brunch there last Sunday. It was Cousin Lona’s birthday. I am not committed to a detailed analysis as food critics are required, so let me cut to what it is you really want to know. The food was bland, poorly prepared and mediocre at best. I had a taste of all their dishes, as required under The Law of Buffet Eating, and not one dish leapt out to impress me.

• Grammar police: When you write, to me or to anyone, if you quote someone besides yourself, then use double quotes to enclose what others have said. I.e. According to Rod, “it is not proper otherwise.” To frame the name of a play, a movie or a book, then single quotes are used. I.e. I was told ‘The Shining’ is quite scary.

• Cherry tours: Reader and writer CJ Katz, is always interested in locally produced food. She sent this information along. “Maybe you could mention something in your next edition. Over the Hill Orchards is having tours on the weekends of their orchard and facilities. Every Sat. and Sun. starting at 1 pm. Cost is $10. Dean Kreutzer has just built Saskatchewan’s first cherry processing plant. His orchard is a very interesting place to visit as Dean is doing quite a lot of fruit breeding with peaches, apricots, plums and even almonds. It’s really worth the visit! The orchard is located near Lumsden.”

• Garden Tip: Reader Paula Grolle worked with me at Lakeview Gardens for several years. She is now working at WP Garden Center. She sent this advice along, so that you can receive better service when shopping at a local greenhouse. “Thanks Rod for mentioning how overwhelmed the staff are at the independents. After eight hours, my brain is mush. Perhaps you could suggest that readers bring in a photo of the pots they need to fill; as it would really help us to visualize what and where we need to go to help them. Could you also suggest that they keep the plant tags and bring them in so we know what they want.”

• May I see your bloomers: The flowering crabs are finishing up their chance to shine and the early lilacs are in full bloom. It has been a cool and somewhat moist spring and those two conditions have increased the bloom time and the quality. White lilacs are truly an outstanding part of our landscape and one of the better ones is called ‘ Madame Lemoine’. Tulips are still performing lovely. When we have very warm days, tulips do not last all that long. One year, we were having several days of plus thirty weather and a batch of my tulips began to open in the morning. They were fully advanced by two and by supper, they were deteriorating. Yep. That quick when it is hot and dry. Also beginning their bloom period are the Mountain Ash.

• Cathedral Arts Festival: What a great time. We walked along 13th Avenue, taking in the hospitality of Mysteria Gallery and Traditions. There was a garage art show at 2159 Retallack St. I love garage shows. All the pretense has been removed. I detest the phrase ‘keeping it real’, but for some unfathomable reason, it applies here. There was a band playing. Two brothers, one wife, one son in law and a friend. They were good. They have a name. GH Summit. We pulled up a lawn chair and listened. The woman who owned the garage, a woman we had never met, took Maureen into her home and made her a cup of tea. This is community the way it is supposed to be. This is culture, the way I enjoy it. Someday, I want to produce an event titled ‘Garage Theater’. Three different, ten minute shows, in my garage, complete with lawn chairs. No programs, no grants, no reservations required.

• Better than ‘The Stones’: Here are the top ten reasons why I enjoyed the garage band and art show better than ‘The Stones’ concert a few years ago. #1: 2159 Retallack is half the walk as it is to Taylor Field. #2: It was free instead of $300. #3: No security guard frisked me. #4: I got to sit four feet away from the lead singer. #5: No one asked me to quit singing when I knew the song. #6: There was no ‘commemorative program’ selling for $18. #7: There was no drunk, forty-five year old chick in a tube top(unmentionable body parts falling out) dancing in front of me. #8: Technology was not at the forefront of the show. There was only a one hundred watt light bulb. It worked. #9: I could still hear after the show was over. #10: The band thanked me for coming when the show ended. Jagger never even sent me a card.

• Hockey, eh: I am Canadian, through and through, eh? I love hockey. Something is not right when The Stanley Cup runs into the month of June. When we were kids, hockey was wrapped up in March for the most part. That is the way it should be. There is a season for everything and that season is not ten months long.

• Sponsors wanted: Avid gardener Dorothy Cook is involved in a feet only type of volleyball. They want to hold a tournament and need sponsors. Here is her request. “"$10,000 sponsorship needed to help host top athletes from around the world for an International Sepak Takraw ( kick volleyball) competition this July in Regina. Contact Dorothy 306-539-5978 or for further info."

• A book and it’s cover: We took in the Donna Kriekle art show at Noveau Gallery on Friday. As we left, a street person from my old neighborhood, was north of the gallery on Albert. He called to me. “Rod! Come over here. Hey man, come over here.” I said to Maureen, “He’s going to hustle me for money. I just know it.” I walked over to the man, scruffy, beat up, just hanging in there by a thread. He said: “I haven’t seen you for a year or two, man, and I know that your mother died last year. I really liked her. She was a neat lady and I always felt close to her. I just wanted to express my condolences.” God sends people into our lives to teach us the lessons we have not yet learned.

• Community backbones: A few Garden Reports ago, I nominated Chad Jacklin as the backbone of Cathedral Village, for all that he does. This time around, a shout out has to go to reader Margaret Bessai, for spearheading this year’s festival. Without people such as Margaret, we would never have these incredible events. She gets a ‘backbone award’ for her volunteer efforts within our neighborhood.

• Kitchen Gear One Year: Kitchen Gear moved into our neighborhood, on Hill Avenue, a year ago. They are a good shop. I have been in several times. They are celebrating their first anniversary this coming week. Congrats go out to them and a thank you for what they have brought to our community.

• Garden Tip: With the serious amounts of rain water we have received in the past few weeks, some of our plants will be producing light green to yellow leaves. The extra moisture washes away the available iron. To combat the yellowing of leaves, add in iron chelate to the surrounding soil. A simple solution to a complex problem.

Trollius a lovely plant for many gardens
• Intervention time: I ran into four of my gay friends on Friday night. They informed me it was time they did something about the way I dress. I have no idea why they mentioned this topic as I had on my favorite, brown t shirt at the time. They are insisting on taking me shopping. I told them that amongst my straight, male friends, I am considered quite well groomed. They stared past me, totally unfazed by that information.

• Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in rainy, cool, and funky Regina.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Garden Report #82

Sunday, May 18th, 2012

'Morden Sunrise' Rose
• Writers write: I’m not in a bitchy mood, but I am tired. I’m tired of seeing the volume of plants and gardening products that the box stores are selling. Home Depot, Lowes, Rona, Wal-Mart, Superstore, Costco and the list goes on. People lined up to get their fertilizers from stores that have no idea which fertilizer is appropriate. People lined up to buy apple trees that do not have one chance in a hundred of surviving here. People lined up to buy plants from staff who have no idea what they are selling.

     At this time of year, everywhere I go, I am inundated with people asking advice. Why? Because none of the box stores offer anything you need to know. Yet, there are reputable, independent garden centers and greenhouses that have the staff waiting to give you good advice. One of our readers made it quite clear that Larry out at Sherwood Greenhouses always ensures she has the right information to care for her plants. This type of service you cannot find at the box stores.

People keep asking me how retirement is going?
     This season, go to the independents. Find the one where you feel most comfortable and form a relationship with the people who work there. Become a known customer. They know how to make plants grow. If you don’t support the independents, we are going to lose that wealth of knowledge, just as we did with the demise of the neighborhood hardware store. I mourn the loss of my local hardware store.

• Readers write:

     • Marcus Fernando has a garden in Croatia. Here is his comments regarding my take on weeding. “I had to smile at your "get ahead of weeds" week. I believe you described them as "small but visible". You must come to our garden in Istria sometime! Our weeds are large and man-eating.”

     • Neighbor and reader June Blau loves to travel. I never know where she will be from week to week. “Warm greetings from the lovely Fairmont Hot Springs where I am enjoying your blog. I must be getting homesick? Always enjoy your observations, reflections, stories & gardening advice, all of which you craft so creatively. Thanks for your dedication to this contribution to our lives.”

     • Chris Pasterfield has a comment regarding the audience singing at The Symphony’s ‘Beatles’ Night’. “Sorry to have missed the Beatles with you. Our other social engagement was lively, but no singing!”

     • Daniel Jackson is one of our younger readers and he is moved to respond when there is food involved. “Mmmm.... my mouth is absolutely salivating at the thought of what you have described as poppy-seed loaf, which has no superior in taste.”

     • Laura Pettigrew is known as a composer and a flautist here in Regina. She is composing a new piece to recognize the hundredth anniversary of The Regina Tornado. This piece will be performed in the only downtown church undamaged by the destruction of 1912. She writes :“The work will be performed / premiered at St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at noon.”

     • Jackie Arnason has taken French classes from my Grade Nine teacher. She has this story to tell. “Rod - thanks again for a wonderful, cheery, Sunday morning read. I remember taking an adult French class with Louis Jule. One of the women, much older than the rest of us, couldn't make the ‘oo' sound. Louis knelt in front of her, took her hand, pursed his lips and said in his lovely French accent, “like this, ‘oo’”. She rolled her eyes and said, "oh say it again Louis". I remember Louis going all red and blushing. We quickly left that sound and went on to something much less intriguing.

     I'm looking forward to the Cathedral Festival, always a fun-filled week.”

     • Roberta Nichol weighed in on the ostentatious graduation ceremonies that are so common these days. “Yes, Grads have gotten 'way out of hand. Excess, excess, excess. Unnecessary, and very hard on those who can't afford such things. Both my grad dresses were sewn by mom and I think I looked pretty darn good. I remember having the treat of going to the hairdresser's in Grade 12 but for sure, the clothes were ‘Styles by Mom’. I remember in Grade 12, badgering mom for a graduation gift, like a watch, or some such thing: "Marilyn is getting a watch..... all my friends are getting gifts for graduating....." and mom said, “you're not. I expect you to graduate”."

     • Georgia Hearn was to the point. “Great issue! Glad you keep it going.”

     • Lyn Goldman enjoyed the photos last week. “Gorgeous iris, Rod! Thanks! I hope your hand is recovering.”

     • Jean MacKay is off on a wonderful trip this summer. Read on. “Don’t change a thing! Pretty soon I will be telling you about the MacKay’s (all twelve of us) August trip to Scotland.”

     • Joanne Brown has been a reader for some time but this is her first time writing back. “Rod, I love your Garden Reports! In your last one, you mentioned being in the Fine Arts Program at Central Collegiate. How many of your readers are aware this program even existed and how it made blossoms out of many? It was the first Fine Arts High School Matriculation Program in Saskatchewan, and students were chosen from various high schools within the city.” Joanne also noted that the acclaimed ceramicist Vic Cicancsky was our home room teacher.

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman, who is a regular reader sent this along. “Thank you for the tour of your yard yesterday, and it was a pleasure to meet you in person.”

'Autumn Joy' Sedum-plant now for a fall display
     • Keith Carpenter from Van Noort’ Nursery out in Surrey, wrote in this week. “I am still enjoying your Report every week and the insight you give of not just the gardening industry, but of the culture of Regina and Saskatchewan and the Prairies.”

• Thorn less raspberries: Yes Virginia, there is such a thing. There is one nursery left growing Muskoka thorn less raspberries in northern Manitoba. I got in a hundred of these for our readers. If you would like some, I have a few left. They are ten for $25. They are bare root which means they are not potted. Easy to plant.

• Garden Tip: This is the busiest gardening weekend of the year. People are out across this land doing what we love to do, plant. At this time of year, the people who work at greenhouses, are forfeiting their sleep. Trust me on this one. Four hours is the most they can get in May. As I have thirty-five years in the trade, I suggest that you not fret if your local greenhouse is not answering their phone. It is best to go down and see what they have, in person. The staff are swamped and while your call is important, their telephone is ringing, nonstop. I asked reader and friend Les Vanderveen, who works in the largest greenhouse on the prairies, if he has crossed that invisible line into insanity yet, and he assured me he had. It happens to everyone in the greenhouse business at this time of year, so be gentle with these people. They are in a word, overwhelmed.

• Surprise: Most of us thought that with such an early spring and warm weather in March and April, that this year would have been a fast start to our gardening season. It didn’t turn out that way. Our gardening season is off to the same start as most years. Of note, the tulips for the most part are slow this year. Mine are coming, but in bits and pieces, not a full on bloom fest.

• Not a surprise: When we were in high school in the 1960’s, none of us boys were all that sensitive to women’s’ rights issues. Women’s rights were being talked about but not in everyday conversation. There was one boy who continually crossed the line in his treatment of the girls at our school. He showed a great disdain for their feelings and did not hesitate to reference them in negative and sexual terms. He definitely stood out with his behavior. For a career, he chose The RCMP. He rose within the ranks of this organization that is mandated to protect us. Today, we hear of lawsuits being launched by the female members of The RCMP. In the lawsuits, the women have filed claims of continual abuse and a culture of disrespect. In hindsight, The RCMP might have been better off in their screening process, if they would have interviewed the high school girls for their opinions of the candidates.

• Blooming this week: More tulips, more daffodils, iris, bergenia, flowering crabs and apples. Also beginning their flowering period are the early lilacs known as The French Lilacs and Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). The later lilacs such as Little Leaf, Preston and Villosa, will not be blooming for another four weeks, give or take. The beautiful tree, blooming in all its glory, at the south end of The Albert Street Bridge, is a Mayday, just in case you were going to ask. The pink blooming trees, which are especially spectacular this year, are Rosybloom Flowering Crabs. The most popular varieties of Rosybloom are Thunderchild, Royalty, Selkirk, Gladiator and Fuchsia Girl.

• Garden Tip: Yes. If you have not already done so, it is a very good time to fertilize all of your plants. Again, if you wish to review my recommendations, go to #80.

• Time is relative: A few readers have comments regarding the time stamp on The Garden Report and other late night emails they have received from me. Let me begin by stressing, I am not an insomniac. I have two, very loud machines in my bedroom. One is a reverse osmosis machine that cleans my city water and the other one is my hemo dialysis machine. Both not only make noise, but they also have flashing lights and alarms on them. Try sleeping through the night with those babies. So, I keep my laptop close by and when I am up, I might as well get some work done. I am tethered by a four foot long tube to my HD machine, so raiding the fridge is not a possibility. Maureen will not wake up and complete that task for me either, ungrateful women that she is, insisting upon her sleep.

• Garden Tip: Be wary of fertilizers high in nitrogen, the first number. Nitrogen is of course, important to plant growth but excessive use of it grows a plant too quickly, without developing the roots. For most situations, I try to find a balance.

• Shout out: A special thank you to readers John Ciotucha and Billy Patterson for helping me out with my gardening activities as I am unable to use my left hand for a few weeks. John even washed my car for me and it has not been that clean since it was new. This is one of the meanings of community.

• Garden Tip: To bag, or not to bag, that is the question. There is a long standing debate over the bagging of lawn clippings. I do recommend for the most part, letting the clippings fall back into the lawn. They will provide a nice cushion to walk on and as they break down, they provide good compost for the grass roots. I do bag the clippings when the lawn is really long prior to cutting. If not, I am left with some unsightly ‘hay’ lying across my lawn.

• Homemade tomato soup: Are you tired of the crap that Campbell’s passes off as tomato soup? Me too. Here is a simple recipe you can make in no time at all. I cooked up a batch on Tuesday and it was delicious. Take eight tomatoes, cut them into quarters and place into a pot with one and half cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook the tomatoes for thirty minutes or until tender. Add this into your blender and puree the tomatoes for about thirty seconds. Be careful, as the tomatoes are hot at this point. Add the puree back into the pot. Stir in a teaspoon of garlic, a half teaspoon of salt if you want salt, a half teaspoon of fresh ground, black pepper, and a teaspoon of rosemary or basil. Let this simmer for an hour without the lid on. This helps it to reduce and intensify the flavor. To finish it off, I squeeze in the juice of a fresh orange, two pats of butter, and it is ready to serve. It is so fresh to the taste. If you want to turn it into a cream soup, add in a cup of whole milk, your choice. Also, if you object to the tomato seeds, then of course, you can strain it. Personally, they don’t bother me.

• Garden Tip: Prior to planting your newly purchased bedding plants, it is advisable to ‘harden them off’. Hardening off is a process where a gardener leaves new plants outside when the weather is good and brings them in when it is not, such as when the temperature is getting too cold. Hardening off allows the more tender plants to develop some toughness for the garden. Every year at the greenhouse, I would get a call from someone who had taken their new purchase and planted it directly into the garden. That evening, the temperature dropped quite low and the plants were flattened. They invariably believed that I had an obligation to protect them from their folly.

• What was old is new again: I was gardening on the Angus Street side of my house. Three people in their early twenties rode their bicycles past, as I toiled. The bikes were old. The young man had a straggly beard and dreadlocks. The two women accompanying him also had dreadlocks. Their clothes were a time machine, back to 1967. I was nostalgic. I was tempted to ask them to hang for awhile. “My parents are not home,” I wanted to say. “Maybe we could smoke a ‘doobie’.” Then I remembered, I don’t do that anymore.

A mandevilla in bloom
• Garden Tip: If you are going to plant fuchsias, and I really do love this plant, protect them from the wind. Nothing will destroy a fuchsia quicker than a strong wind. They need to be in an entranceway or some area that is wind free. If you have an exposed area with strong wind, then look at a mandevilla or a diplademia for a hanging basket. Both of these plants can take lots of abuse.

• Pay for the new stadium: Our new football stadium can be paid for quite easily, without raising property taxes. Simply have the police set up along The Albert Street Bridge, issue tickets to motorcycles and cars that have excessively loud muffler systems and The City will be flowing in money. There is no shortage of these idiots who go vroom, vroom!

• Garden Tip: I lost a dogwood this winter that had been growing just fine for four years. I have no idea why? This stuff happens. Anyone who tells you that everything they plant grows, well we have a special name for that person within the gardening community. We call them delusional but your are free to substitute the words ‘Fibber Magee’ if that is more to your liking.

• Father knows best: At The Symphony’s tribute to The Beatles, two of the songs played were ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’. I could hear my dad’s voice shouting: “Turn that goddamned radio off! That’s not music!”

I planted this Thunderchild in 1980
• The glory of the Thunderchild: Thunderchild Flowering Crab was developed by the late Percy Wright, in Saskatoon during the 1970’s. He named it to honor Chief Thunderchild of the First Nations. The tree was released in 1980 and the one featured here was planted by yours truly, in that year. The price was regularly $29.95 and as an introductory special, $19.95. It is planted in reader Sandra Rayson’s yard and I would suggest it has proven to be a good buy.

• Garden Tip: Nothing appears more simple, yet takes years of experience to develop as a skill, than watering. Here are two basic tips. It is always best to water early in the day. Morning is the best. Evening is the worst. Second, it is always best to water quite deeply, everything. By this, I mean get at least an inch of water down on your lawn, so that it percolates into the root zone. Frequent and shallow watering does not encourage deep root growth.

     Here is something of interest. Every fall, when I am cleaning up my pots, I conduct a post mortem. I examine the roots of all the potted plants as I discard them for the winter. The plants that performed the best, also had the roots going the deepest. The poorest performers, had roots that only grew half way down the pot.

• Wasted on the young: A few years ago, I was at the boxing club. There were two young female boxers. Both were attractive and young, in my eyes. One was twenty-two and the other was twenty-nine. They shared the same first name. In the change room, there were two young men, around nineteen. One expressed to the other that in his opinion, one of these two women was “hot”. The other asked for clarification as to which one he was referring. The original speaker spoke with incredulity, that of course he was referencing the twenty-two year old. After all, the other one was “really old. Like she’s probably, almost thirty.”

It was at this point that I felt an incredible need to lie down and rest awhile.

Jodi's nephew- what a sweetie!
Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Garden Report #81

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

'Morden Blush' Rose
• Writers write: Thank you for all of your well wishes regarding my carpel tunnel surgery this past Wednesday. I won’t know for awhile if the surgery is successful, but my fingers are feeling normal right now. I wrote most of this week’s Report before the surgery and finished up the rest with a very slow, one handed effort afterwards. Reader Greg Morley has kindly offered to word process this ezine if I write it out longhand. Thanks Greg.

     I have choices to make every week, as I write. While I have no desire for The Garden Report to be read as a cheerleading ‘rag’ for all that is right in life, I also do not wish to be a ‘negative Nelly’ ( I love that euphemism). I try to find the middle ground, with a sense of balance. When a restaurant is good, I say so, and when it is not, that has to be said as well.

     It is difficult to speak poorly of a business or an individual. It is not in my nature. I am more of a ‘glass half full guy’. But it is equally difficult to ignore what has been my experience.

     I try to be fair. I am a Libra. Our symbol are the scales of justice. When someone disagrees with me, I include their argument, unedited. They can have their say. One of our readers attacked me for being white. I admit it. I am white. I would like to point out that I did not choose to be white. That was a choice made by my parents. This reader chose to be ignorant and a racist. She can change that. I can’t change my skin color.

• Readers write:

     • Noelle Chorney is the lovely editor of ‘The Gardener for the Prairies’, our finest horticultural magazine. Noelle is a fan of The Garden Report. She likes the humor. Here is a short and sweet from her computer. “Here's to a rapid recovery from your surgery. Looking forward to hearing from you again when you're feeling up to it. Don't rush back, because proper healing is most important for the long haul.”

     • Moving along with the magazine editors, Sarah Willis is the editor of ‘Landscape Trades’ near Toronto. Sarah asks a question. “Enjoyed your 80th Garden Report - what are you planning to do to celebrate the 100th?”

     • Our local football legend, Ron Lancaster, was not a big fan of the fine arts, just sports. He gave the Fine Arts students at Central a rough time when he was a teacher there. I will attest to that statement. Here is a memory, shared by reader Marsha Kennedy. Marsha was a year behind me in The Fine Arts program. “One day a group of us Fine Arts students were gathered around the entry to the gym, waiting for our dance class to begin. Ron Lancaster, who was teaching there at the time, came along. He seemed to be perturbed at the thought of males dancing and said: “I don’t want any of those Fine Arts boys flitting around in my gym”.” Al Ford was also a Roughrider player and a teacher at the same time as Lancaster. Ford treated us with respect.

     • Margaret Bessai is an active member of the arts community in Cathedral. She is a reader and today she writes. “Congratulations to you both, and best wishes to the parents to be, Patrick and Lisa! I agree with Chad Jacklin, you are a great heart in our community. Your photos today were inspiring. Cheers, and hope to see you around the Arts Festival and the market this May.”

     • Penney Pike has pointed out the advantage of me becoming a grandpa. “Firstly, congratulations Grampa!! Wonderful news. Being a Grampa will open up a whole new audience for your stories. Just think, someone who has never heard "well, Mom thought it was funny"!”

     • Wanda Bellamy, who now resides in Lumsden, concurs that the new bakery there is very good. “Come out to Lumsden and try the new bakery. We are loving the goodies, every Saturday, and today we munched on cinnamon buns and coffee cake. Owner Lesia is a very friendly young women and we have loved everything we have tried. Another great Garden Report! Take care.”
     • Judith Langen has this to say about information contained in #80. “Thank you for a very interesting Report. We needed some information on treating our dead patches on the lawn.”

     • Jean McNeil, who gardens near Ottawa, sent this missive. “Do you not sleep? I saw the hour of your Garden Report today. I regret I cannot attend the socials you mention or eat at the mouth-watering restaurants you suggest. I do appreciate your garden knowledge and so many other broad aspects of life.”

     • Cheryl Ann Smith sent well wishes from England, where she now resides. “What joy you bring to so many, through your observations, stories, practical tips, and somehow connecting people from all over the world. You probably need wrist surgery for all the writing you do for this blog!”

     • Sherri Tutt appreciates lawn care tips. She writes “Hi Rod. Happy spring. Thanks for the lawn repair tips. It felt like you had peeked into my yard and knew just what I needed. The info goes straight to my 'Tips' book.”

     • Sandy Thiessen is one of the best, young landscapers I have ever worked with. She is off on a grand adventure this summer, working in an apple orchard near Vernon. Sandy writes “It is absolutely glorious out here. I have been enjoying the people, the work, and the scenery.”

• Garden Tip: It is a good time to fertilize just about everything. If you have forgotten which fertilizers I recommend, check back to #80.

My mother and I on a very sunny day
• Mothers’ Day: There is an adage that maintains there is no more precious bond than that between mother and son. I can write of the bond from personal experience. As to mothers and daughters, I can only offer observations.

     I lost my mother last year and no matter how old we are when that event occurs, we are reduced to being six years of age, at best. Mothers carry us. They birth us, feed us, nurture us and wipe our cute little tushies. Mothers teach us the value of money and the importance of chores. They teach us how to ride a bike and surprisingly, how to catch a ball. At a young age, for most of us, our dads were these abstract beings. They went to work, they came home from work. Their first question upon arriving home was, how had you treated your mother. You knew from an early age, that your father acknowledged your first duty was to your mother.

     As a young teenager, I thought my mission was to place distance between my mother and myself. I was mistaken. As I cycle through life, I observe that the strongest of men have close relationships with their mothers. Most men have no fear of being seen as ‘mommas’ boys.’ They are secure enough within their maleness to accept their mother’s role within their lives.

     Even after our mothers pass, they continue to be our moms. Their life lessons are there, always reminding us to choose wisely. They are never far away. ‘God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers to help him out’.

• Garden Tip: If you have not already pruned your roses, you better do it this week.

• Cherry Lane: I visited this greenhouse, located just off of #1 Highway on the Grand Coulee Road. They appear to be a sincere couple, with a passion for growing plants. Their operation is best described as ‘homey’. It is not a production greenhouse and space is limited, but they do try to have an assortment. They have some interesting containers planted with annuals as well as a good selection of lilies and iris’. The place was clean. The plants ran the gamut from decent to very good. They are on a learning curve, having been open only a few years. I suspect that most readers would find it an interesting visit.

Other greenhouses of interest in our locale include Sherwood (behind CTV), Dorn’s (south on Highway #6) and U and K, (north of Indian Head). There is a parking lot greenhouse, south of Arcola and Park Street, that carries some interesting plants as well as a container planting service.

'Ruffled Velvet' Sibirian Iris
• Garden Tip: A very beautiful addition to any perennial garden is the Siberian Iris. This tall plant is one of those underutilized items available to us. It is best planted in a sunny location. I tried planting a few in dappled shade and while the plants lived, they did not thrive. They usually grow around two to four feet tall and they bloom in June. ‘Caesar’s Brother’ is one of the more popular varieties. The photo of ‘Ruffled Velvet’ is courtesy of Dr. Phillip Ronald.

• Fighting old battles: I ran into my Grade Nine French teacher last week, Louis Jule. I greeted him, in French. He was impressed with the quality of my accent. I asked if he might agree to increasing the mark he assigned to me in 1965. He stared right past me. Odd.

• Garden Tip: Best to mow your lawn at a medium height of two inches. If you have a mower with a five height setting, a three or four works best. If you have a four height setting, use a number three. It is not a smart move to cut your grass really short in order to reduce the number of mowing times. Short mowing removes the part of the grass plant that regenerates the roots.

• Too cool: In 1987, I took a friend who is mentally challenged on a trip to Minneapolis. He is very social. We attended an NHL game while we were there. He began talking to the people around us. At first, they were a little apprehensive or standoffish. Gradually, they began to engage him. At the end of the first period, my friend had thirty people embroiled in a discussion, debating: Was Hulk Hogan the greatest wrestler of all time? And the conversations carried on. By the end of the second period, people who we had never met, were inviting us out for a beer and pizza after the game. Someone asked us to come over for a barbecue on the weekend. It was a real party atmosphere in our section. Me? I was too cool to talk to people I had never met so I sat there, saying nothing. It doesn’t take brains to make friends. Just a smile and a “hello, how are you?”

Close up of a double flower on a cherry tree
• Blooming this week: Cherries, plums, a few tulips, forsythias, bergenia and daffodils. The cherry and plum family (prunus) includes Double Flowering Plum, Flowering Almond, Mayday Tree, Schubert Cherry, Amur Cherry and Nanking Cherry. Do you have something in bloom? Let me know and send a savable photo if you can. Thanks.

• Fun at the symphony: Last Saturday, we had Mahler’s Third which was complex and dynamic. This Saturday, we had a night filled with Beatle’s music. So much fun. We all got to sing along with The Beatles but strangely, no one sang along with Mahler. I guess we didn’t know the words.

• Farmers’ Market excellence: Two items that are divine at our outdoor market are the fudge and the poppy seed loaf. The fudge is five bucks and the poppy seed is ten. The poppy seed loaf is sold at a booth called Laurel’s Danish Pastry. You have to look for it as it is a small booth. None better.

• Container gardens: Do not be afraid to experiment with different plants in your pots and baskets. There was a time when it was considered horticultural heresy to use perennials in containers. I picked up on the trend, which started in California, back in the eighties. Some people were upset when I introduced the practice to Regina. Now it is not so unusual. No one gets bent out of shape over lamium cascading out of my window boxes.

     Passersby often comment over the lusciousness of my pots out front. Lush you say. Yep. I use lots of tropical plants including dieffenbachia, peace lily, Ming tree, dracaena, and ivies. I usually pot up three or four Boston ferns that are growing originally in ten inch hangers, into fourteen inch clays. They look great and they do just fine in the shady spots. I can’t be bothered overwintering the garden trops, so I give them away and start over every spring.

• Practice makes perfect: I have been practicing my grampa lines. Does this sound believable? “Maureen! The baby needs changing!”

• Only thirty five years ago: My brother Alvin and I tried to change his first born son in 1977. A television comedy could have been made from that effort. “I think this fold goes here. Nope. Maybe this way. Nope. Do we have this thing on the right way? Is there a back and front?” How many men does it take to change a diaper? No one knows. It has never been done.

• Garden Tip: This week is a must for gardeners. You must get ahead of your emerging weeds or else you will be fighting a rear guard battle through June. The weeds are small but visible. Get them out now, let your ornamentals fill in the spaces and your weeding will be reduced. In my own garden which is quite large for a urban lot, weeding only takes an hour a week once I have the spring crop eradicated. Eradicated? Cool word.

• I don’t get it: Coming up is another high school grad season. Gail Aubin of Carmen, Manitoba told us last year, most girls in her town spent $1,500 for grad. I have heard accounts of girls in Regina spending $5,000 for their dress. Something is wrong here. Grad should be fun, not a homage to excessive spending.

Sibirian Iris - an excellen choice for a prairie garden
• Garden Tip: Try to include plants that bloom at different times throughout the season in your garden. If you do, you will have a continuous show. Thirty years ago, a local doctor came into my greenhouse in May. He had been drinking. He purchased every plant that was in bloom. For several years afterwards, he had the best May garden of anyone on the block, but no flowers from June onwards.

• Coming up: This is the year that you must, absolutely must, attend The Cathedral Village Arts Festival. Don’t just go to the Saturday market. Check out all of the cool things presented Monday to Friday. For the Scot in all of us, the shows are free! After The Festival, in June, there is the always entertaining Mosaic. You get to tour the world in three days. My two favorite visits have been to The Scottish Pavilion (cheer on the pipers) and The French Pavilion. Both are well organized with great music. Then in July, take in The Regina Fringe which is an incredible show case for nineteen theater companies; followed by The Folk Festival in August. Emily Lou Harris is the headliner this year.

• You can do it: Last year at the Scottish Pavilion, I ran into Dave Wessel. Dave is not that big of a man. Perhaps 140 pounds. There was this bouncer with biceps that looked as if they were transplanted thighs. I said to Dave, “Twenty bucks says you can take him. Go on. You can do it. I got your back.” Dave didn’t need the money so we will never know if he could have done it.

Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in sunny Regina

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Garden Report #80

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Canadian Artist Rose 'Emily Carr'
 • Writers write: Two things to share. First, I may be required to take a sabbatical from writing for awhile. I am due for surgery on my left wrist this Wednesday and my understanding is that I will be unable to word process for a month. If I am unable to write, I will get someone to send out a short message telling you this information.

     Secondly, I will soon have a new title to add to my life list of son, brother, dad, uncle, boss, garden guy and best husband in Lakeview. Sometime around November 5th, you may address me as Grampa. It’s true and you are reading the scoop here. I even beat The Globe and Mail on this breaking news, can you imagine? Patrick and Lisa are having a baby later this year. Maureen has been phoning everyone, even cousins we haven’t spoken to for fifteen years.

• Readers write

     • I referred to Chad Jacklin as one of those backbones of our community in #78. Chad wishes to clarify the backbone concept. Read on. “I give thanks for your glowing endorsement of my work. I must say that I wasn't really aiming for the backbone, but more of a rib or at most a thighbone type of role. But I guess that's what happens when you have lots of ideas and a big mouth! That being said I nominate you as the heart of the community. We all have our roles to play. And thanks again for connecting me with Brad the landscaper (Outdoor Expressions Ltd.). It is nice to work with people who are genuine and do their best!”

     • Robin Poitras from New Dance Horizons is a regular reader but only writes in once a year. Here is this year’s much appreciated contribution. “Thanks again for including NDH’s call for gardens in your Garden Report. We were delighted to get Marsha's enthusiastic response which we have added to our call for gardens. Interesting to hear of the Teilhard play. Some years ago I went with a Coleman & Lemieux Dance Company and several other artists to Mongolia, on a fantastic research project for a new work by Bill Coleman titled ‘Hymn to the Universe’. The work was inspired by Teilhard's book ‘Hymn to the Universe’. Thanks for all the connections. Your breadth of interest and knowledge is astounding!”

     • Gwen Barschel has an announcement. Here it is: “Enjoying The Report as usual this morning. I thought I would send along a promotion for Regina Little Theatre’s latest offering. They are presenting three one act plays, May 11th & 12th. Bar and food service on site, plus home grown talent. Please call 779-2277 for tickets. Why the promo? My daughter is in one of the plays! Keep up the good work. Also, Dutch growers has a lovely selection of Morden roses in this week. Faithful rose performers that they are.”

     • Roberta Nichol enjoyed two different passages from last week’s Garden Report. She writes: “I loved your passage about ‘The Shells that we Shed’. It spoke to me, for sure. Our bodies, and our homes are like jackets or coats. I also loved the CBC budget cuts passage. Honestly, what can one do but make these situations comedic?”

     • Dora Mushka had a few interesting comments. “I am smacking myself in the forehead. After 17 years of trying to get a nice row of cedars to line the pathway up to the house , I could ‘a been enjoying the upright junipers. This spring we tore up the front steps and landscaping so I will be incorporating the junipers this time. Can I give a shout out to Roberta Nichol? I was 17 years old when Roberta came to Rockglen, a little town south of Assiniboia, as part of a provincial Girl Guide Leadership conference. Roberta played the guitar and sang as part of the program. Her voice impressed me so much that I have never forgotten her. I hope she's still singing.”

     • CJ Katz, who writes the food and restaurant reviews for The Leader Post, sent this along. “Hi Rod – thanks a lot for the plug this issue! I really appreciate you trying some of the spots I write about! Love the forsythia photo.”

Doreen is on the left
     • Regular readers know that I am a strong supporter of The Marian Center, the soup kitchen located on Halifax Street since 1966. Christian sister Doreen, who has been a fixture for many years at The Center, has been transferred by her order to their main location in Ontario. She will be missed. She brought a sense of humility with her service to the poor and disenfranchised. Doreen has been a positive influence on my life even if humility has not been my strong suit. Here is her note: “The main reason for this email is to give you some news. I've been transferred to Combermere, departing May 28. This move seems like the right thing. It's been many years since I last lived in Combermere where Madonna House first began. I am peaceful and excited, but leaving is always heartbreaking.”

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman and I share a fat soul. Terena tips us off to a new place in Lumsden. Here are the details. “Thanks for another great Report, and for the advice about my not-so-blue spruce. In return, I will pass on news of a wonderful, small bakery that has just opened here in Lumsden. The Fourth and James Bakery is on the main street. Lesia Matheson is a local girl who graduated from the Vancouver Culinary Institute and has, halleluiah, come home. She bakes fresh treats daily and has a special bread every day. Her hours are from 8am to '5 or 6 ISH', because she has been selling out early. I can recommend the focacia bread, berry scones, brown sugar brownies...well, everything really! It's well worth the drive out to the valley.”

     • Sherri Tutt has been enjoying the brunch at The Mercury Café, on 13th. Here is her recommendation. “Hi Rod: Enjoyed The Garden Report as usual. A tip about the Mercury Café. They have a great Sunday brunch buffet. Fresh fruit, outstanding hash browns (never tasted any quite like these) and an array of sausage, bacon, scrambles with and without cheese (great for my gal with milk allergies). All kept piping hot. Our family has a new tradition. Walk the dog at the dog park then hit the Mercury for early brunch. Also to let you know that I have started a book of all the helpful garden tips as I can never remember them all. Have a great spring!”

• Old school nurserymen: I was talking with Ron Boughen who runs the family owned, one hundred year old nursery, north of Dauphin, Manitoba. I asked Ron about his father, Russ Boughen, who ran the operation for sixty years. Russ was so good to me when I was the young kid of the industry. He always reminded me to look for the silver lining in every cloud. Russ is doing well, at the grand age of ninety. He lives on his own and drives out from Dauphin to visit the nursery. Russ was well known for either developing or promoting many of the varieties that we still plant today. Some of his more popular plants are ‘Beta’ grape, ‘Skybound’ cedar and ‘Convoy’ cherry plum. Some of the plants that he was involved with that are not as popular but are still planted include ‘Moscow Pear’ apple, ‘Boughen’s’ phlox and ‘Manor’ cherry plum. There are many nursery people who live very healthy lives well into their nineties. I have always believed that it is their outdoor lifestyle and optimism that keeps them going beyond the national average.

An inground fountain
• Garden Tip: For those people who have suffered spot damage on their lawns over the winter, here is how you repair the damage. Give a really rough raking to the damaged area. Ensure it is loosened up. Apply a quarter of an inch of garden soil and rake that out. Then sprinkle the appropriate seed, sun or shade, into the garden soil. Top the area with a bit of peat moss and then step on everything, to compress the seed and soils together. Do a two step if you have a bit of country in you.

• Statistics don’t lie: Did you know that 34% of people believe a statement if there is a statistic attached? The remainder of the population simply remains gullible.

• Buyer beware: A flyer arrived with my newspaper on Wednesday. It was published by Lowe’s, the new box store in Harbor Landing. They were advertising plants. Gardeners should be advised that none of the apple trees listed in the ad are hardy for anywhere in the prairies. The apples should only be purchased in the warmer parts of B.C. and the warmer parts of Ontario. Also, some of the shrubs listed do not have good chance of surviving our climate. This has always been a problem with the box stores. They purchase plants for all of Canada, yet there are ten, distinct, climate zones within our country. Best to purchase your plants from a reputable, independent who understands the local conditions.

• Fertilizer time: Around the middle of May is a good time to be fertilizing your lawn, trees and shrubs. Most deciduous shrubs should be fertilized with a 10 30 20. If you cannot find that one, you can use a 20 20 20. Evergreens enjoy what is called an acid based fertilizer, so a 30 10 10 is a good choice. For the lawns, I am old school and I do not recommend any of the well advertised lawn fertilizers available at the box stores. I use a 34 17 0 for the sunny yards, and a 17 19 0 for shady lawns. The 17 19 0 has the benefit of 15% added iron which assists grass in greening up. These fertilizers are available at Crop Protection Services, 530 McDonald St. Their number is 721-6340.

• Far out: In 1985, we visited Roger’s Gardens, the premiere garden center in the Los Angeles area. They were selling, ‘imported from Canada’ peat moss, harvested at Nipawin, Saskatchewan. Their price? $20 a bag. That same product, is available around our city for eight or nine bucks a bag in 2012.

• Roses 101: There is much confusion as to the different rose series. Here is the thumbnail sketch. Parkland is the oldest series of roses and they were developed in Brandon and Morden by the late, Dr. Henry Marshall. The most popular of the series included ‘Cuthbert Grant’ and ‘Adelaide Hoodless’. After Parkland, there came the Morden series. Again, the breeding work was started by Henry Marshall, with assistance from Lynn Collicut. The Morden series includes ‘Cardinette’, ‘Morden Belle’, ‘Morden Sunrise’, ‘Hope for Humanity’, ‘Prairie Traveler’s Joy’, ‘Winnipeg Parks’ plus others. There is another series of hardy roses developed at the Ottawa Research Center called the Explorer series with ‘John Cabot’ and ‘Samuel Champlain’ being two of the more popular from this group. The newest series to be introduced is called The Canadian Artist Series with names such as ‘Bill Reid’, ‘Emily Carr’ and ‘Campfire’. Some of these are not yet released but will be in the coming years. The Canadian Artist Series was developed with expertise and financing from the private nurseries and breeders.

• Old school nurserymen #2: In 1982, I had the joy of being seated with Dr. Henry Marshall, the famous rose breeder, at a banquet. I asked him point blank, if he regarded his roses as being his legacy. His answer? “Yes. They are my children.”

'After Eight' Lilies
• Too social: I stopped into Lakeview Fine Foods to pick up a package of their ground chuck for supper on Wednesday. It should have taken me ten minutes, there and back. I bumped into reader after reader at the store and we chatted, as I am known to do. I arrived home one hour later. Perhaps I should get the store to deliver my needs. It would save me some time.

• Interesting: The originator of Cheezies, Canada’s cheesiest snack, has died at the age of ninety. His name was James Marker. No one admits they eat Cheezies, but the stores sure sell a lot of them. According to my math, Mr. Marker invented the snack when he was 26. When I was 26, I was drinking beer, eating Cheezies and chatting up pretty girls. I was a late starter.

• Nice plants: I noticed a new vendor at The Farmers’ Market this Saturday. The name was ‘Cherry Lane’ and they had bedding plants. Readers know how fussy I am. My standards for quality are incredibly high. I do not recommend most greenhouses, but this one met my standards. The other plant vendors at the market are, I am saddened to write, not up to snuff with most of their plants.

• A great sendoff: About a hundred and fifty former students of Miss Shirley Covey held a memorial service for her this Saturday afternoon. When I looked around the room, it was apparent that as a group, we had prospered in life. How much of that was due to Shirley and to the other teachers who looked after us? The tributes came from all over, sharing the same theme: ‘She helped me out when I needed it the most.” A few tears and a lot of laughter. She was such a delightful, larger than life character. Something out of an Agatha Christie novel or ‘Travels with my Aunt’.

• More of readers write:

• Jan Pederson, horticulturalist of great renown and our resident Dane, has discovered the joys of my people. Jan writes: “There was a gathering of the clans in Winnipeg tonight to celebrate 200 years of the Scottish ‘occupation’ of Manitoba. The Selkirk Settlers arrived here in 1812. Kris and I celebrated with haggis and neeps, the amazing sounds of Winnipeg’s award-winning Pipe and Drum Band & Highland Dancing. Your clansmen really know how to have a good time. A really fine evening learning about Scottish heritage …. including a large dollop of haggis. We left a wee dram of Scotch behind (didn’t want to drink it all). Regards, a secret Scot-wanna-be.”

A prairie quilt
• One of our many forwards, sent this in. “Hi Rod. I've been a reader of your Garden Report for a couple of years now, via your neighbor Kelly Pierson. I'm a third generation prairie gardener, and especially enjoy seeing the new varieties of plants and flowers available each year. I'm also a third generation prairie quilter, and wanted to let you know about a somewhat different kind of garden show happening next weekend at Conexus Arts Centre, Friday and Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm. The Prairie Piecemakers Quilters' Guild presents ‘My Quilted Garden’, a quilt show and vendor market. Saskatchewan is home to many talented quilters.” Signed, Brenda Caswell.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in rain soaked Regina