Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Garden Report #88

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

The Winnipeg Fringe 2007
• Writers write: The Regina Fringe Festival arrives but once a year and this week is the week. Performers from around the world and down the street will be acting out, just for us. Tickets are cheap as in only ten bucks a performance.

     Fringe theater was not always a part of Regina’s cultural mosaic. In 1998 or ’99, my memory fades, Maureen and I decided to change that. We hosted a weekend mini Fringe of two plays. One hundred and twenty people attended. Just enough to pay the actors and the hall. Everyone else worked for free, which is often a Fringe tradition. We repeated that event, producing nine more weekends of Fringe theater over the next seven years. In 2005, The Regina Fringe Festival had its opening season at The Regina Exhibition. It stayed there for two years before moving over to Cathedral Village, an area more suitable for this event.

     When interviewed in the past for The Fringe Festival, I often referred to Fringe Theater as being “the best theater in the world”. I am not going to sell you on that idea with words. Go. See a few plays. You will see what I mean. Theater that is so real, so democratic, so accessible. It is truly theater that changes how you view theater.

• Readers write:

     • Lyn Goldman was succinct. “Splendid!” is what she wrote. As to which part she was referring, one must guess.

Native ferns at their best
     • Linda Lyster sent this in: “Hi Rod. I just wanted to let you know that my ferns in Regina this year are so-so, but at the cottage at Regina Beach they are glorious! They are over four feet tall, and multiplying like crazy. I tried to dig a bunch up before they matured, but wasn't fast enough. Should I try again in the fall or wait until next spring?” Rod’s answer: Best to mark your ferns in the fall with a bamboo stake and dig them in the early spring.

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman writes: “ Hi Rod. As always, a lovely way to start my Sunday, thank you.
My Siberian iris have been a joy in my garden for several years since a friend gave me a 'bit' for my birthday (gardeners share). They always make me think of a delicate Japanese watercolor painting.”

     • Neil Slater weighed in on life back in the old days. “I'm a bit younger than you, Rod, but I remember the horse-drawn milk carts in Regina. We arrived in Regina from Scotland when I was four years old; and now that I think about it, I probably remember the horses more than the carts. And I definitely remember the oil-fired space heater in our first house on Garry Street. That was a tiny place that has since been expanded, and it had vents in the ceiling to spread the heat around a bit. We didn't have to share bath water. Life has gotten easier, even for some of us young folk."

     • This from Gwen Barschel. “Good Morning Rod, enjoyed The Report as usual. What is the name of the lovely orangey/red rose in your pictures? Me thinks I need to have one of those. Yes, the roses are lovely this year. I have three, so far. After your advice a year or two ago, I have used the iron chelate whenever my rose leaves are looking pale, and within a week or two they are back to their glossy green.”Rod’s answer: The rose does not have a name and it is not on the market, yet. It is still under trial and is being seriously considered for release. I wanted our readers to see it here first as I think it will prove to be a good one. I think it might be an improvement over Morden Sunrise which we enjoy in our own garden. It’s name is Rose #291 until further notice.

     • Cheryl Hutton, our actor, reader, mother to be and Calgarian, has not written for awhile. “This morning I indulged and read my five backlogged Garden Reports. Wonderful as always. And reading them back to back is kind of like getting to watch your favorite TV show without having to wait until the next week to see what will happen. You can immediately move on to the next one and get caught up. Like with your story about replacing the cracked pot. I think I would've gone mad having to wait a whole week to find out what you ended up doing! And I was thrilled to hear your answer. I would've done the same thing. P.S. I am an over user of the exclamation mark when I send texts or emails to make sure my tone comes across as I mean it. But now I'm a bit self conscious about it! Eeeep!”

     • Roberta Nichol, as a retired school ma’am, always has an opinion, especially in regards to grammar. “Good morning, Rod! I am writing with my Emeril coffee, big, easy, and bold, by my side. We do love our caffeine, don't we? I am so happy to read that perhaps Jeannie Freeman felt a little affected by your comments regarding exclamation points. If I can be in the same grammatical company with her, I am a rich woman, indeed! Also, like her, The Garden Report is truly one of my guiltiest pleasures. I held off on watering my plants this morning, as I was waiting for it to appear on my laptop. And that called for a second cup of coffee. Ah, life is rough.”

• Times change: Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Medicare, our universal health coverage system. Some readers remember how the introduction of Medicare split the community apart. Those for and those against. Rumors flew. The most ridiculous one was that the government would be filming women in the examination room as they undressed. Some people said they were going to move. They didn’t of course. It was as is so often, just rhetoric.

     Today, we have lived with Medicare for quite some time. There are two and a half generations who have never known any other system. Medicare and the health system has its flaws. There are problems. But there is not one person from the right or the left of the political spectrum who would advocate its remission. Even the most conservative of the politicians talk about improving Medicare, not removing it. All any of us need to do is to listen to the problems and abuses of the privatized health care system, south of the border. Millions of people who cannot afford a doctor’s visit, let alone a prescription or a surgery.

     We were out for a bicycle ride a few years back. We stopped in Victoria Park, sat on a bench, enjoying the evening air. A man was sitting on the bench across from us. He tells us that he is from Baltimore and is passing through. Just over nighting in a downtown hotel. He asks me about Medicare. “Is it true that you carry a card that allows you free medical care, for everything?” I showed him my Health Card. He kept looking at it. Again he queried: “With this card, you can have a heart transplant, for free?” He was in awe. I accept that card as being part of my birth right, of being a Canadian.

• Garden Tip: In full bloom this week are those incredible Mock oranges. Cut a bouquet of mockorange, place them in water in your kitchen. When you wake up the next morning, enjoy the citrus fragrance and thus, the name. Also out in full glory are the Japanese Tree Lilacs. These trees are out front of Earl’s on south Albert Street as well as over by The Science Center. Lovely white blooms on a great tree.

'Morden Blush' rose-a real winner
• Canada Day: Being July 1st, my family and I will take in the programs and fireworks at Wascana Park. Seeing as we live one hundred and fifty feet from the entrance to the park, I don’t think parking should be a problem. One of the best things about living so close to the park is that if nature calls, we can run home to use the bathroom. No port-a-potties for this family. We may be from pioneer stock but we have no intention of carrying on the outhouse tradition of our grandparents.

• Garden Tip: Seeing more and more chlorosis which is when the leaves of a plant turn yellow with the green veins showing through. Treat with iron chelate.

• Fare thee well: Wednesday past, we had a monster wind storm that knocked out power from Prince Albert to North Battleford. We kept our power in Regina but every street had good sized trees or tree branches knocked over. I was trying to sweep up a planting site during the big wind and my broom became a sail, trying to lift me into a Mary Poppin’s scenario. Eventually I realized that the wind would clean the area just fine, without my using the broom.

• Garden Tip: If you have a wet spot in your garden and you want to plant a tree or a shrub there, here is an old trick. Dig your hole at least six to eight inches deeper and fill with crushed rock. This will give you a bit of drainage so that the roots are not water logged.

Not recommended methodology: When I was hiring people for the garden center, every now and again, there would be a person sitting across from me who had decided they would not give out any information. Somehow, the interview was more of a cat and mouse interrogation process, in their view. I would ask a question, and they would duck it or turn it around and answer my question with a question of their own. You could see on their face how clever they thought they were. Well…I was looking for people who wanted to help customers solve problems and find the right plant for their garden. That sort of thing. I had no need to hire people who were so clever that they could not deliver a direct response. I don’t play games. I would end the interview on the spot. They were usually quite surprised that their little game was over.

• Garden Tip: This is more of an observation than a tip but I didn’t know what else to call it. Gardening is so enjoyable, that even really bad gardeners have a good time. I have had many people take me on a tour of their garden, showing off their efforts. They see a masterpiece worthy of Monet. I see something totally different than that, perhaps a dog’s breakfast, but I keep my tongue in neutral. I simply say “you really enjoy what you do” and if someone is having fun, then that is what is important.

• Finnegan update: Finnegan, the petite, orange kitten who wandered into our life several weeks ago, is doing just fine. He has totally bonded with his new owner and he is growing quickly. His favorite hobby is to climb onto his daddy’s chest in the morning, and stare into his eyes until he wakes up. He also thoroughly enjoys jumping from the cupboards to the television set and then to the chesterfield.

• Garden Tip: I am fully aware that I repeat myself but some of you are in the slow learners group. Watering is best carried out early in the morning. Early in the morning means before nine a.m. Watering in the heat of the day should only be carried out on an emergency basis. Water deeply not shallow.

• La Bodega: Reader and food writer CJ Katz recommends the fish and chips at La Bodega. We headed over there on Thursday. I had it in my mind that this was a night for a fish and chip supper. Surprise, surprise! Fish and chips are part of their lunch menu, but not their supper menu. According to our waitress, the fish is fried in a Corona beer batter and is very popular with the noon crowd. So, we went to Plan B. Maureen enjoyed their version of a Waldorf salad with chicken and wasabi mayonnaise. I got half of Plan A and half of Plan B. I ordered the Steak Frites which is a fancy way of saying steak and chips. The chips were first rate. A really large serving to boot. In the running for best in town with Nicky’s and Bushwackers. The steak was a four ounce tenderloin. Very tasty. Very small. For close to twenty bucks, somehow I thought it might be a bit bigger.

• Garden Tip: One way of keeping your hanging baskets and containers looking good is to take your garden scissors and trim them up. I take the scissors to all of my containers every ten to fourteen days. A little haircut and they not only look tidy but they fill out even more.

A martagon lily in my garden
• We kind of won: It is so wonderful to walk into a restaurant and find there is no one smoking. They can’t smoke since the year 2000. Now, if we could only get smoking banned from the outside deck areas, that would be the icing on the cake. All of us remember a time when you could slice the air because the smoke hung so thickly in cafes. When the no smoking law came into effect, there was a loud cry from the restaurant industry that the law would destroy their businesses. Hmm? Twelve years later, they appear to be doing just fine. People have to eat. They don’t have to smoke.

• Not sure what to say: A fellow stopped me in a store on Thursday night. He recognized me from my television programs. He asked for some advice. He told me that his grandfather grew the biggest and best tomatoes anyone had ever seen. He went on to say that his grandfather’s secret was to strip the leaves of the tomato plant totally bare and thus, the energy all went into the fruit. His question: “When do I strip the leaves off of my tomato plant?” I have heard many, many interesting gardening stories in my time, but that one has to rank in the top ten. I have never heard of that before and it doesn’t make sense. How can a plant continue to live without leaves? Maybe his grandfather was Irish and was giving him a good Blarney Stone story. If someone has had direct experience (and not anecdotal) with this tomato stripping, I would like to see it for myself.

• Opinions not required: Because I work outside so much, I tend to lose weight in the summer and gain it in the winter. One winter morning, many years ago, I was having my a.m. coffee. I had my pants on but no shoes or shirt. Hey! It’s my house. Patrick was four or five years old. He comes downstairs to join the ‘old man’. He pats my tummy and offers up “You’re getting a little porky there.”

Trollius give a perennial bed some pizzaz!
• Thanks for reading….Rod McDonald in sunny Regina.

1 comment:

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