Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Garden Report #87

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

My ferns were lovely, last year!
• Writers write: It is a Sunday morning and I have my cup of French roast in front of me. It is the writer’s drug of choice. The house is quiet. Maureen is asleep and I just let Murphy out, for his morning salutations to the sun.

     I am thinking, how much easier life is today that it was when my grandparents arrived in this country. I turn on the hot water for my morning shower. My battery powered toothbrush cleans my teeth. The toilet flushes anytime I want it to and a few times, by its own decision. I turn a knob and the stove comes to life, ready to cook my pancakes. It is such an easier life than it was a hundred years ago for my grandparents who were homesteaders.

     Growing up in the fifties, with a wood stove for heat and no hot water, it was a major production for my mom to bath us kids on a Saturday night. The water had to be heated on the stove and the bath shared amongst the children. I would plead with mom to allow me to be the first one in. I had my reasons. I lived in fear that the younger ones would pee in the water, prior to my turn. Self preservation has long been my strongest suit. No matter how difficult it was for my mother, come Sunday morning, the McDonald children absolutely shone with cleanliness, ready for Sunday School.

     Life has indeed gotten easier.

• Readers write:

     • Sherrie Tutt asked a question and she got her answer. She writes “Thank you Rod. The advice is greatly appreciated.” The advice given was this: Roses as with peonies, require a good amount of sun to thrive. My roses grow just fine with morning sun from six until noon. If you do not have a sunny spot, there is no variety that will do well. With your grass seed, you can use either shade or sun. Both should have Kentucky and Fescue varieties in them. The Kentucky works better in the sun and the fescue in the shade.

     • Susan Rollins loves to garden and to read. Here are her comments. “Another great Garden Report today. I just wanted to thank you again for the strawberries you gave us a couple of summers ago. I had bought some strawberries earlier the same year and over this winter, only two or three survived while yours are flourishing. They had babies outside of the low boxed area. I transplanted a number of the babies in with the small ones that I purchased and they have filled in. Also the daylilies you gave me are happy and healthy. I was thrilled when my PeeGee hydrangea returned a few weeks ago. I planted it in a bed without any winter protection. I am one of those gardeners who does not baby my plants. They have to tough out our prairie summers and winters.” Rod’s note: Good gardeners always share. I planted fifteen strawberries in 1995 and since then, I have given away hundreds of plants. I still have my original fifteen.

     • Jeanie Freeman always has a nice thing to say except when you tick her off. Today, I am safe. “Hi Rod! You and your Garden Reports are among my guiltiest pleasures!! Please excuse the exclamation points, but I really do want to be sure you take my emphasis seriously! It is almost impossible for me to click and delete before I take what is always going to be just a quick peek to see what pithy and informative comments you are bringing from the alien (to me) territory that is the Land of the Gardeners and Green Things. I'm always hooked.”

     • CJ Katz weighs in on the search for great fish and chips story, which is ongoing. “I love fish and chips. If I see it on a menu I usually order it. La Bodega makes a great fish and chips.”

     • Roberta Nichol enjoyed the story about butterfly breath. “I absolutely loved Noelle Chorney's story about her three year old. What lovely, sweet innocence. Oh, if we could all remember to see things through a child's eyes. Such purity and beauty. I love that little boy and I haven't met him!”

     • Margaret Bessai is also a fan of the butterfly story. “TY Rod for another wonderful Garden Report! The butterflies with lilac breath just made me smile! Cheers to you and Maureen, and best wishes for a wonderful Sunday with your extended family.”

     • Lyn Goldman, along with most of our readers, loves kitty cats and puppy dogs. Here is her story. “What a beautiful photo (of the lilac)! I'm so glad the kitten found a home. I've been thinking about him. My first two cats, when I came back to Regina, were a purebred Siamese and a splendid orange tabby. Both of them were found, and no one came to claim them when I advertised. I enjoyed their company for 14 and 18 years, respectively.”

     • Patty Softly out of Toronto is also a friend of kittens. “Glad he landed in such a good home. Love his name (Finnegan)!”

Sibiran Iris- wonderful choice for a sunny location
• Garden Tip: Blooming this week are the iris. Spectacular blooms, all over the city. If you are not familiar with a Siberian Iris, take a look. They usually grow around two to three feet tall and are a very worthy perennial for most gardens. They need a fair amount of sun. I tried growing mine in dappled light and while they lived, they rarely bloomed. The peonies and roses are incredible. Toba Hawthorn, a smaller tree, seldom seen, is also beginning its bloom period. Ninebarks and late lilacs are out as well.

• A little off the mark: I had friends who liked to party. They were going to Sweden to celebrate the summer equinox. Apparently, the Swedes really like to celebrate that event. Only one problem. My friends smoked a little too much ganga and they got confused as to when the equinox is. They were in Stockholm for May 21st.

This rose has not been released or named.  #291 in a trial.
• Garden Tip: Roses are starting to bloom and as I predicted, we are off to a banner year. Beautiful blooms everywhere I visit. When a rose is spent, remember to remove the bloom and the stem back to a complete set of leaves. This will encourage it to set bud again as well as keeping the rose bush tidy.

• Flip, flop and fly: That is the name of an old, Downchild Blues Band number, which has absolutely nothing to do with this bit. I have heard from three different sources now that ‘Flip’ on Hamilton Street is a very good bistro. We tried to get there for Fathers’ Day but they are not open on Sundays. I cooked bucatinni instead.

Canadian Artist Series Rose 'Emily Carr'
• Garden Tip: The newly released ‘Emily Carr’ Canadian Artist Series rose is also in bloom. I planted a few of these new introductions and they are a lovely, deep red. The ones I planted are even nicer than the one in this week’s photo.

• Women don’t forget: When Patrick was four, I took him up in a cherry picker, which is a boom truck with a basket on it. I had rented the cherry picker to do some high up pruning on a tree. That was twenty-eight years ago. We drove by a cherry picker last week. It triggered Maureen’s memory. She told me that I should have not taken him up in the basket with me. “He was way too young” she admonished. “This is better than the exhibition,” Patrick said.

• Old school nursery: Boughen Nursery in Valley River, Manitoba is one of those old school nurseries. They grow varieties of perennials and shrubs that no one else does. They ship most of what they grow bare root, wrapped in a bit of peat moss so it doesn’t dry out. This is the way your grandmother got her plants, long before there were garden centers. Your order arrives and it is appears as if you have just purchased a bag of dead roots. Not to worry. I planted about a hundred of their wonderful perennial roots this May and they are all up and growing. When you buy plants from Boughen’s, you are buying a promise of something special yet to come.

• Garden Tip: If your columbines are under attack from a leaf beetle or leaf hopper, which consumes the leaves very quickly, there is a control. It is called Rotenone and it is organic. Sometimes it is hard to find. If you cannot locate it, fire off an email and I will tell you the last place I saw it.

• Not so tough: Patrick, Number Three Son, has a new job. He is now in sales. He made a cold call on a contractor. The guy was rough and tough and blustery. He gave Patrick a really hard time. Patrick told me “I know that lots of other sales reps would have left because he was rude. But I thought, he’s just like my dad. Makes a lot of noise. Growls. Tries to scare the hell out of you. I’ll just let him blow himself out.” I trained my kids well.

• Not so tough #2: One day at the garden center, I growled at one of my high school students. He laughed. I asked him what was so funny. He told me: “Every student who works here is afraid of you for the first year but no one is ever afraid of you in the second year.” I should have kicked his butt just to prove him wrong, but life’s too short.

• Not stuck: I have often said: Poverty is a great institution to be from, but not so great to live in. Growing up in my neighborhood, there was a boy, a little older than me. He came from abject poverty. Absolutely nothing. He was bright. He worked hard. One teacher took a shine to him. She told him he could do anything he set his mind to do. He is now a judge in Queen’s Bench Court. When a defendant is before him, I suspect he has empathy for those who don’t have two cents to rub together. He was once there himself.

• Never too old: I had a friend who was single at the age of eighty-one. His wife for fifty-five years had passed away. He was starting to date, again. He asked my advice. “What do you do when a woman likes you, more than you like her?” I told him “At your age, you have to have figured this stuff out.” His answer? “Nope.”

• Garden Tip: If your native ferns are not as lush as they have been in previous years, not to worry. Neither are mine. I am not certain why, but my suspicion is that the lack of heat has been a bit of an issue this year. All of mine are up but not near as full as last season.

• Good times: We took in a Red Sox baseball game on Thursday night. Minor league baseball at its finest. They don’t gouge you at the gate, fifty bucks, or eighteen dollars for a ‘commemorative’ program. Nah. They only dinged us seven bucks for a ticket and three for the program, and it was a perfect night for a ballgame. No wind. Not too hot. Only a few mosquitoes. Baseball unfolds in its own time. The fans are laid back. No one gets bent out of shape. No one is calling for blood. I always find nice fellows to visit with. Men I have not met before. We sit in the bleachers, tell a few stories about ball games from our childhood. No one feels rushed. Baseball is not a hurry up game like the last few minutes of hockey. It has its own rhythm. It’s worth checking out.

• Garden Tip: With all the rain we have been receiving in this area, iron chlorosis is setting in. It is not a disease, it is a condition. The available iron and other nutrients have been washed away from the root zone. All plants can be affected but some are more susceptible including roses, apples, Saskatoon’s, cherries and maples. It is easily treatable with 7% iron chelate made by Plant Prod. Also, if you reduce your watering, you reduce the effects of the chlorosis. One of the problems we face in Regina is that because we are in a semi arid climate, we think that adding more water is the solution to every plant problem. In reality, we aggravate many plant problems with too much water. In other words, we kill more plants with kindness than we do with neglect.

'Katherine Dykes' Potentilla

• Good choice: There is a variety of potentilla that is rarely seen today and is hard to find. I have no idea why. I don’t decide trends. It’s called ‘Katherine Dykes’. It grows about two to three feet tall, and is noted for its soft, yellow flowers. Think water colors versus oils. It is a more gentle yellow in the landscape than ‘Goldfinger’ or ‘Coronation Triumph’. Not so ‘jump out and notice me’. I planted five of them last year in a new garden in The Creeks. They have emerged this spring as a quiet piece of beauty. It is a variety worth planting. As a secondary note, I showed this plant to several young, landscape students. They were very impressed. They had never seen it before and wondered why it is not planted more often.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in sunny Regina

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