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.

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