Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Garden Report #84

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Our spring garden just filling out
• Writers write: I was on the phone, talking to Ron Boughen who runs the legendary Boughen Nurseries in Valley River, Manitoba. The gist of our conversation was: Who is coming up to take our place? We, being the plantsmen and plantswomen of the trade. You see, Ron and me and Garfield Marshall, Heather Lowe, Michel Touchette, Wilbert Ronald, David Vanstone, Ken Riske and Jan Pederson are all in our fifties and sixties now. We used to be the young punks of the industry but today, we are truly the establishment or the old geezers. Sadly, very few people are behind us, starting out in their twenties. The young landscapers are excellent bricklayers, wall builders, pond installers, irrigation experts and so on, but horticulture has been left out of their curriculum. There was a time when a father handed his greenhouse over to his kids and they in turn, to their children. That was the case with the Boughen’s. Now, when the old man wants to retire, he is often closing the doors. Stop to think. How many local greenhouses have we lost in the last twenty years in the Regina area? The number might shock you.

     There is a bit of good news. Taylor Crassweller, who is the son of Brad and Sandy over at Outdoor Expressions Landscaping, hopes to change that. Taylor has enrolled in The University of Minnesota and starts this September. He is training to become a grower of nursery and greenhouse plants. Taylor is eighteen, bright and willing to learn. We need a few more horticultural students, across the prairies.

• Readers write:

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman enjoyed last week’s Garden Report and wrote this: “My daughter and I have been going to The Cathedral Village Festival since two weeks before she was born. As always, we enjoyed it this year. Instead of having breakfast in the Great Canadian Bagel while watching set-up, this year we had a window booth at The Mercury, and really enjoyed their food. Great weekend as always, and congratulations to the organizers.”

     • I did not think I would live long enough to have anyone defend me as a natty dresser. Colin Perkowitsch did just that. Read on. “Just read the Garden Report and the comment from your gay friends on them needing to help you with your wardrobe. As a person who eats and breathes fine clothes, I can attest that not many guys look much better in a suit and tie than you. I can also attest that you have a closet full of great clothes and always dress up when appropriate (unlike many). I think your buddies need to cut you a little slack on the regular days and keep an eye out for how you look when you head to say The Globe Theatre or The Symphony. Also thanks again for all the great info and humour in The Garden Report. Always a joy to read!”

     • Reader Heather Lowe is an avid gardener and she has a husband who farms. The rainy weather has seriously affected him this year. “Brian is at an impasse with seeding. The anticipation of an early seeding was soon quashed. Now all he’s hoping for is to at least have it completed before we leave for Scotland on June 16th.” Heather also passed along this interesting tip for all of us foodies out there. “Have you tried a ceramic knife from Kitchen Gear? Best knife you’ll ever use.”

     • Roberta Nichol has this to say about neighborhood culture. “I loved your 'Better Than the Stones' entry. So true. There is beauty in simplicity, whether it's a concert, food, art or even a holiday. Why not put Palm Springs on hold and do a little tour of all the cool stuff that's in our wonderful province?”

     • Georgia Hearn continues to be a fan. “It is always a treat to open the mail to another issue of The Garden Report. I totally agree with you, The Cathedral Arts Festival was so much fun, with the parade and all the groups singing, dancing and playing. It was just a great time. More good advice for us all and that special humor of yours.”

     • Jennifer Cohen knows only too well, that my three passions include gardening, The Fringe and food. She covers two of those three bases here. “Heard an item which might be of interest. In London, England, there's a Chelsea Fringe which runs at the same time as the famous Chelsea Floral Show.”

     • I was teasing Jim Tomkins about the Zen of weeding his garden. Here is his retort. “I don't know if I felt Zen, but I do find that some repetitive tasks sort of let my mind start roaming and random thoughts pop into my head. Maybe that's Zen! However, I was trying to be careful not to take out any good plants as I was weeding.”

     • Joanne Crofford was listening to an interview on CBC, regarding the arts. Here is her synopsis of what should be important to us. “The guest replied that “I am not just a consumer, I am a citizen. As a citizen, when I finally leave my house and my computer, I want to know that there is live performance, live theatre as a way for the community to gather and share experiences.””

     • Doreen Dykers is a Christian sister in service at The Marian Center, our local soup kitchen. She has been transferred, by her order, to their training center in Combermere, Ontario. She had this take on gardening in Regina. “That's a great opening paragraph for Garden Report #83. As challenging as it is to grow plants in Regina, I think that it's the best place in the world to garden. It is fun to put down landscape fabric in high winds, with dust blowing, and friends from The Marian Centre shaking their heads and begging me to wait for better weather. I've come to respect and admire the gumbo that is native to this area. The plants thrive in it. As I write, there is a pussy willow happily growing among the manicured Manchurian elms. It's only a fledging, a mere 2 weeks old, but the leaves are still green. Will it survive? Time will tell.”

     • Wendy Richardson gardens and writes to us from London, Ontario. She is having a much better spring than we are and is getting ready for her son’s nuptials. Read on. “We have had the most wonderful spring this year. Have done a lot of pots for the deck so it looks pretty for the upcoming wedding this summer. The wedding is not at our house, but there will be lots of activities here.”

     • Lyn Goldman has been a strong supporter of community and the arts for many years. “Lovely Report, Rod. I especially like your comments about the Cathedral Festival and the sense of community. I love Regina for the same reasons.”

     • Mark St. Onge phoned in this comment. “I now live in a condo, so I skip over the garden tips, but I read the rest.” Gee, Mark, I think you should by a house on an acreage with a thousand trees, then you could read everything.

     • I have not heard from Sally Orr (nee Pasterfield) for awhile but when she does write, she sends along the sunshine. Sally wants us to know that she lives in The Garden City of Canada. “Another beautiful day in Victoria,”

Mountain Ash
• Garden Tip: Many of the trees with white blooms on them this week are Mountain Ash. It is a very good year for this species as some years, the blooms are quite insignificant. Remember, when you plant a Mountain Ash, it is best to choose a spot where there is good drainage. Never ever plant a Mountain Ash in a low spot, as excessive water will kill it quite quickly.

• Nice people: Politics does make for strange bedfellows, or at least those willing to hug. In our ‘photo of the year’, Joanne Crofford, former NDP cabinet minister is being hugged by Ralph Goodale, former Liberal finance minister. I told you. The Arts Festival makes everyone happy!

• The Grandpa Report: Patrick sent me the ultra sound of our first grandchild. I was pretty pumped but no matter which way I looked at it, I couldn’t see a damned thing. It was as if I had been handed a Rorschach Test. “So Mr. McDonald, what do you think you see when I show you this” he said with a Viennese accent. “Doctor” I responded, “I see a cloud but I really want to see a baby.” His turn: “So. You say you want to see a baby? Tell me more. We have much work to do here.”

• The Grandmother Report: When Maureen was a RN at ‘Sick Kids’ in Toronto, she had Italian babies on her ward, which meant she had Italian grandmothers. The grandmothers were always bringing up food for the babies, convinced that the nurses were not feeding the kids properly. Some would even bring up grapefruit, for newborns. My plan is to be much better behaved than that. No snickering, please.

Joanne Crofford and Ralph Goodale at The Arts Festival
• Garden Tip: Jan Pederson recommends ‘Dexter Jackson’ as a very good, hardy apple for our area. I am planting one for a friend. I will let you note how that turns out.

• Things change: It’s June and if this were the 1970’s or 1980’s, you would be hard pressed to find bedding plants in this city. The attitude during those years was, that once May 31st had passed, bedding plants were either sold or thrown out. The season was over. Laugh if you must, but that was the way it was. Then I came along, young at the time and bucking tradition. I noticed that people wanted plants for their cottages, for replacements, for upcoming summer weddings and so on. I started buying up the other greenhouses decent leftovers to sell throughout June. Those greenhouse operators laughed at me. They said I didn’t know what I was doing, but they were wrong. There was a market for annuals in June and today, you can find them at most greenhouses. As time went by, I discovered that the season went even further, into July and August. We started growing annuals for July, in large containers, as people wanted/needed the bigger plants to match their existing plantings. I made decent money off of the ideas that others said would not work.

• History belongs to whom: The adage is that history belongs to the victors. Not true. History belongs to those who take the time to write it down. Some recent documentaries coming out of the U.S. portray the Americans as victorious in Vietnam. Wow! Now that is text book revisionist history or an outright lie, depending on your diplomacy level.

A few tulips in my back garden
• History belongs to me: Following the above adage, I have informed my Mrs. that from here until all eternity, I am writing that she apologized this week, admitting she was wrong and that I was right. It must be true if it is published here. No ‘snarkers’ from those missing the Y chromosome, please.

• Garden Tip: Excess moisture washes away nutrients from plants. If your plants appear a little weak as in lighter green, then a shot of 10 30 20 fertilizer will benefit them greatly. If plants could talk, they would sound like teenagers. “Feed me. Feed me!”

• Interesting statistic: Just got the stats from the company that looks after The Garden Report, online. We now have two thousand readers through the internet. Add in the thousand who receive it by email and your forwards, and we are over the three thousand mark. We started out with a hundred. How many have asked to be taken off the list? Six.

• Garden Tip: When choosing your bedding plants, it usually works out best if you choose plants within the same series. For example, if you plant ‘Purple Madness’ petunias, then choose ‘White Madness’ to complement it. A series of impatiens, petunias, or geraniums means that the growth habit should be similar. Jumping around from series to series does not make for the best flower beds.

• Grumble, grumble: I don’t get downtown as often as I want. I do enjoy it. I had a doctor’s appointment this week so I took the opportunity to grab a bite from one of the food trucks along 12th Avenue. It was a sunny day and a wonderful opportunity for me to people watch. If I am really honest, I probably was watching the girl people more than the boy people. My dad used to say that “girls are like football. I’m too old to play but I do enjoy watching.” A gentleman approached me in the mall. He asked me what I thought of the experience. I told him “so far, so good.” He proceeded to file a complaint with me. His view includes it was a waste of his and the taxpayers’ money to build it. “The food trucks now have a premium place to park and the statues remind me of an auto wrecker’s yard” were just two of his zingers. My own take is that anytime we spend tax payers’ money to develop pedestrian malls, a place for people to socialize and share a bit of lunch, that is okay with me.

• Food trucks: These beacons of the culinary arts are pretty new to our Queen City. I checked one out for a quick lunch on Friday. I don’t remember the name of it which means I would flunk out of journalism school for not making notes. It had the word ‘Rock’ in it, that much I remember. I had their chicken wrap which was okay, but not great. No zing. Here is the good news. Their French fries were excellent, though they had only plain white vinegar to go with them. For great fries, you really have to have a malt vinegar.

• Garden Tip: As hard as it is for many gardeners, the best way to grow geraniums is to be a ‘hard pincher’. A ‘hard pincher’ is a gardener who removes the spent blooms from the geranium plant and does not allow them to linger. This pruning produces a superior plant, every time. Maureen cannot bear to remove spent blooms so I am forced to do the deed early in the morning before she arises.

Bergenia and a few tulips
• Pizza in the middle: We checked out The Chimney, which is down the street from us, in The River Heights Mall. We shared a pizza. Pizzas have four basic components. The crust, the sauce, the toppings and the cheese. A good pizza must have the right balance. Here is our experience. The place was clean. The waitress was pleasant. The pizza was served hot. All good. The crust was decent but the sauce was absent from some pieces. Trust me. I lifted up the cheese to check. The toppings were also skimpy and for a thirty-three dollar pizza, I expected a bit more ham and pineapple. The layer of cheese was very nice. So, two of the four basics were there, but two were in short supply. The verdict? Two thumbs down.

• Garden Tip: We stopped into Sherwood Greenhouses, behind CTV. Larry runs a clean shop which as regular readers know, is important to me. He still has a nice selection of plants left, if you have been a bit tardy. He is an excellent grower of begonias. Their color leaps out at you.

• Decent soup: We were working in the east end this week. While in the area, we had soup and a biscuit at Brewed Awakenings. Very tasty. We really like the place.

• I shouldn’t tell you this: Within the green trades, we have a joke that is not shared with the public. Our definition of a perennial is: A plant that had it lived, would have bloomed the second year.

Fading tulips-almost time to go
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in its almost summer time,

No comments:

Post a Comment