Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Garden Report #86

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Persian Yellow Rose- the hardiest of the hardys but prickly!
• Writers write: I don’t understand some people. We had an eight week old kitten come into our lives last week. He was lost and we gave him a home for the week. He was the best kitten we have ever had. Cute as a button, inquisitive, cuddly, well groomed and litter boxed trained. It was obvious, he had come from a good home where he had been well taken care of. We posted ads on Kijiji and with The Humane Society. We scanned the paper and social web sites looking for a posting. Someone had to be missing their kitten, right? Kelly from across the street has an extensive neighborhood email list. She asked our community whose family he belonged to. No answer. We placed him with a new owner who absolutely adores him. He has a name now, Finnegan, which suits him.

Over the years, we have found pets, both dogs and cats. One call to The Humane Society and the owner comes running. They are relieved that their pet has been found and they gush with gratitude for the care they received. I totally get that. What I don’t get is no one looking for a kitten they had looked after so well? Kittens and puppy dogs are a part of God’s wonderful creation. When I get to heaven, all of my cats and dogs will be waiting for me. After all, it is heaven, and there will be ice cream served at every meal.

• Readers write:

     • Paula Grolle has a very funny retort to last week’s ‘Wife’s Tale’. Here it is. “Dear Maureen-My very considerate husband Frank has offered me to Rod, in the event of your early passing. He feels that I will definitely fit all the criteria that you mentioned! I also think I heard some mumbling under his breath that sounded like “poor beggar but what a lucky man I am”.

     • Denise Cook is always filled with compliments, which makes her a wonderful friend. “Hi there. Thanks so much for the pancake recipe. It was timely and Rhys loved them. Also, thanks for letting me know when those tree bands are actually supposed to come off. It’s something I’ve often wondered about. You seem to always hear when they should go on but never when they should come off so now I know.”

     • Brenda (no last name) has this advice when ordering a pizza from The Copper Kettle. “Hi Rod. Thanks for another Garden Report. I always learn something new, so I thought I'd share my Copper Kettle pizza tip. They don't always mention that you can also choose to have a side of Greek salad rather than a Caesar, and the Greek is usually very nice. Adding a salad to a pizza meal makes it at least seem like a healthier supper. Thanks again.”

     • Georgia Hearn has this to say. “Rod: I love your stories and now your audience is bringing forth their stories. It is such fun....can hardly wait to hear the conclusion.”

     • Chris Dodd responded with how she would handle the situation over the broken pot. “Regarding the broken pot drama - I might have suggested that because the reason she came was she needed a second pot that if she came back and bought one, I would give her a matching one for free. She's happy and hopefully you covered your costs on the pots. While she's there, you would sell her the dirt and plants to fill them. (Let's hope she chose pots that were nice and big.) Whatever you do, she will tell all of her friends!”

     • Roberta Nichol had this take on the broken pot. “Regarding the cracked pot, I don't believe I would replace it, to tell the truth. Yikes. It's a bit of a conundrum. On the other hand, taking the high road might be the answer. There's nothing wrong with being so respectful and classy that you actually make him squirm. I'm thinking the wife would be pretty annoyed if hubby came home with a new pot. His life may not be worth much at that point! I look forward to hearing what you did do.”

     • Frank Flegel added this story to the ‘Small World’ bit from last week. “We travelled to Rome in Spring, 2011. Met by our pre-arranged transportation and arrived at our hotel around noon. Our hotel was near the ruins so we decided to walk down and have a look. Met a couple of women, mother and daughter I think, who approached and asked our help reading a map. After a brief discussion, we discovered that we were all from Regina! They were from Glen Cairn and we from Whitmore Park. A whole bunch of miles away from home, in Rome, Italy, the other wide of the world almost, and the first people we spoke with, apart from our driver and hotel clerk were from Regina. That was really spooky.”

     • Jackie Arnason loves pancakes as much as I do. Here is her suggestion. “Your recipe for pancakes sounds yummy and I have a great syrup recipe given to me by my daughter, a certified nutritionist. Mix equal parts flax oil and maple syrup. The flax oil supplies Omega 3 fatty acid which can help reduce inflammations and build healthy cells. My nutritionist says we should all take in two tablespoons of flax oil daily and this topping could cover that nicely. I've used it several times and love the buttery taste.”

     • Noelle Chorney has a problem and a question for our readers. “We are battling sparrows in our garden. We are about to put up screening over 80% of our raised bed, after I replant the lettuce, spinach and chard. The peas are beat up, but they'll survive. I'm wondering if other readers have any other suggestions. I regret that my little city plot isn't big enough for me to plant enough for everyone (including our feathered friends), but they're wiping out the entire garden and must be stopped.”

An inground fountain
• Grammar Police: Don’t you dare roll your eyes at me! Here are a couple of suggestions to assist people when they write. Do not overuse exclamation marks or capital letters to emphasize a point. If a point is truly strong, it seldom requires either one. Also, if a writer overuses exclamation points and capital letters, readers tend not to take the writer seriously. Be stingy with those two things.

• The cracked pot or what would you do: Last week, I presented a true scenario regarding a customer demanding I replace a cracked pot. Two of you wrote in with your responses. Here is what I did. By the way, there is no right or wrong answer, just different options to choose. I gave him the pot, after explaining to him that it was not right that he should have even asked. I didn’t belabor the point. But from that time on, he was dropped from my A list of customers. My primo customers got extra services such as free delivery on any item, free house calls to check on a problem and fast return calls. When a customer became unreasonable, I no longer had a desire to earn their business. I cut them loose. Life is too short to play with people who don’t play fair. By the way, when his wife came in for the free pot, she told me she was totally embarrassed and only did so to placate her husband.

• As an aside: The above mentioned gentleman, was married to another woman, many years ago. He was rude to her and demeaning, in my presence. He divorced her, took up with a newer model, and the honeymoon was on. The first year they came to garden center, he was ever so gracious to the new wife. The second year, he was a bit more forceful as to his choices versus her selections. The third year, he treated her in the exact same manner as he did the first wife. She no longer had a choice as to what plants they were to purchase. He was in charge. This scenario confirms what I have always thought. Changing wives does not make you a nicer person. If you were a jerk to the first one, chances are you will be a jerk to the next one, and the one after that.

A grafted Little Leaf Lilac
• Garden Tip: Out in full and gorgeous bloom are the later lilacs such as The Villosa series and The Preston’s. The little leaf lilacs are shining as well. The little leafs can be grafted onto a standard (a four foot tall stick) and they are perfectly hardy. I have had one growing in my yard for years, as have many others.

• Garden Tip: It is time to apply your second application of lawn fertilizer. The three times you fertilize are early May, middle of June and middle of August. I have been using a 17 19 0 (14) available from Crop Protection Services on McDonald Street North. Remember to water in the fertilizer well.

• A new low: It is bad enough that the box stores are selling lots of trees and shrubs that are not hardy for Regina and our 2b Zone, but Home Depot dropped a little further down the scale. They are now selling a ‘Pink Flowering Crab’. No name. There are many varieties of pink flowering crab. Some, such as Thunderchild, Fuchsia Girl, Royalty, Selkirk and Gladiator are hardy for here. Many others are not. So why are they not telling you what you are purchasing?

• Garden Tip: I received a call last week and was asked to inspect a new lawn, installed last year, that was not doing well. I had no connection to the job. The homeowner had under watered the sod, he had not fertilized this spring, and when he cut it, he used a push mower in a ‘Raggedy Ann’ fashion. No matter how good a job a contractor does of installing a lawn, the homeowner has to carry out a degree of proper maintenance to ensure it all works.

• Say what: When Maureen was in Grade Twelve, she had a summer job at the old Army and Navy Department Store. It was an interesting place, with farmers discussing their crops in the aisles. Maureen worked in the sock department and that goes back in history, to when someone actually helped you pick out your socks. A bachelor farmer was in need of a pair of dress socks, something he was unsure of purchasing. Maureen assisted and he had his pair, ready to be rung up. He leaned into Maureen and whispered “do I have to dry clean these or can I wash them with my other stuff?”

• No such thing: Over the years, some visitors to my garden have minimized my efforts by saying “It’s easy for you. You have a ‘green thumb’.” There is no such thing. A ‘green thumb’ is nothing more than a person who pays attention to details. The right plant in the right place with the right amount of pruning, watering and fertilizer. That is it. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I do not water my plants when they need moisture, they die. I garden under the same natural laws as everyone else. Everyone, has the potential to have that nonexistent ‘green thumb’.

• Garden Tip: Weeding is a chore. That is the bad news. The good news is that if you stay on top of it for May and June, the weeds usually slow down from July until October. Also, as your garden develops and the plants fill in the spaces, they will choke out much of the weed growth. Our garden is a mature one and weeding can be accomplished in under a hour a week.

• Garden Tip: Even when it rains, a good gardener always checks certain areas for how wet they are. There are always nooks and crannies that the rain does not get into. In my own garden, I have planters and window boxes that are fairly protected and unless the rain comes down on an angle, they do not receive natural rain fall. Our former neighbor, Kirk Bellamy, was ready to call the men in white coats when he saw me with my watering can, right after a two inch deluge. “I’m just watering the window boxes” I explained as his eyes focused, wondering if I had finally reached the tipping point.

Lady Slipper orchid in Cypress Hills Park
• Siam, yes I am: Our favorite restaurant is Siam, on Hamilton Street. Big flavors. I always tell the owner, “tears of joy” when he sees my eyes spill fluid. We were there this past Wednesday. Most of their tables were reserved, it has become that popular. We had three dishes. A chicken satay on skewers with a vinaigrette cucumber salad for an appetizer. The jungle curry soup which was definitely spicy and a beef curry dish, simmered in coconut milk and lime juice. So very tasty. My only complaint is as with many restaurants, they have no sense of timing. Appetizers are to precede the meal, as is the soup. For some odd reason, they bring everything at once. When that occurs, you have to decide which dish you are going to let get cold.

• Fish and Chips: Has anyone tried The Union Jack on north Broad yet? Let me know if you have and what you thought. I am always on the lookout for good fish and chips.

• Prediction: I predict that if we do not have a bad hail storm, this will be one of the finest years for peonies and roses. They are so full of buds, ready to bloom soon. Some are so heavy they will fall over from the weight of their flowers.

• Best in the land: I just received my summer edition of ‘The Gardener’. I have said it before and I will write it again, this magazine produced in Saskatoon, is the finest gardening magazine on the market. Great photos. Wonderful articles that home gardeners can understand. The only thing missing from their wonderful publication is my twisted sense of humor. You can purchase it as a subscription or single editions at various outlets.

• Zsa Zsa: I had an appointment at my local dialysis clinic. I like to bring along treats for my nurses. You know? A bribe to use the smaller needles on me. Or at least, get them to promise not to tell anyone that I cried like a big baby. It was close to lunch, so I stopped at Zsa Zsa, just west of 4th and Park. It’s a Lebanese, hole in the wall. They sell pitas filled with chicken and veggies, including humus and tazika sauce. Very tasty and you can purchase the pita bread, as they make it there, including a 60% whole wheat one.

• Impatiens anyone: I have five trays of impatiens left over. They are white, pink and violet in color. 36 plants to a tray for $13. Let me know if you need any.

'Galdiator' Flowering Crab-very hardy
 • From the mouths of babes: Little children know things that we as adults, have forgotten for many years. Noelle Chorney shared this with us. “I was walking with my kids in the park. There was a hedge of lilacs weighed down with blooms, and butterflies flitting among them. I said to my three year old, "Look! Can you see the butterflies?" He replied. "Yes! I can smell their breath!" I thought to myself, if we could smell the breath of butterflies, I think it's very likely it would smell like lilacs.”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald, close to the solstice, in Regina, Saskatchewan.

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