Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Garden Report #93

Sunday, August 12th, 2012
In a month or so, it will be tulip planting time
• Writers write: I got an email regarding the fundraiser for prostate cancer this November. That triggered me to write this. I get my prostate checked, every year. My dad developed prostate cancer, which spread to stomach cancer, when he was only fifty-eight. He died at sixty-four, and it was a painful death. I watched him shrink from 170 pounds until he looked like a concentration camp victim. Prostate cancer can often be controlled or eliminated, if caught early, that much we know.

     Here is the problem. Many of my friends are unwilling to get their prostate checked. They are embarrassed by the procedure and they tell me “I’m not letting another man do that to me.”

     Here is my take on the procedure. Yep, it is uncomfortable, for all of ten seconds. But for ten seconds of discomfort, I can handle that. I would much rather put up with that than be sitting in the urologist’s office and having him say to me, “if only we had caught this six months ago, we could have saved you.” I have lost a few friends to prostate cancer and I have this as a goal: I don’t want either you or me to be one of those statistics.

     Here is what I want to happen. If you are a wife, encourage your husband to go for the dreaded check up. I know. I hear from many of you that your man refuses to do that. If he wants, he can talk to me. I am obviously not embarrassed. If you are a man, just go. I will lay down the gauntlet. If you don’t go, you are being a really pussy. Real men get a prostate exam, after fifty (some say younger), every year.

     Here is something funny, to finish this off. Joan Baldwin is a medical doctor. She lives a block north of me. One night, Joan and I were talking about this subject. She said: “Five years ago, most of you men did not know you even owned a prostate. Now, you are forming support groups.” So?

• Readers write:

     • From England, Cheryl Ann Smith responds to last week’s comments about dialyzing at home. “I was really touched by your reflection on the development of dialysis. How it used to be, how it is now, and how it may be one day. I was touched by your choice to live in gratitude for what is available to you today, rather than bitterness for having the disease or for what isn't yet in place. It's an attitude that draws people from all over to laugh, hope, see differently. Thank you. And I loved the photos that put faces on the beautiful children, old Murphy and more gorgeous flowers.”

     • Iris Lord works at The Kidney Foundation. She was also moved by the dialysis discussion. “Dear Rod- as an employee of the Kidney Foundation responsible for raising the money in Saskatchewan for research, I sometimes forget what I am doing. Dialysis patients don't come into my office too often, and I can't just walk into the dialysis unit. Those who benefit from my hard work are not so obvious. Raising funds for anything is difficult, but raising funds for kidneys is even more difficult. Thank you for reminding me why I am here.”

     • Donna Burton used to work at Lakeview Gardens, ran her own horticultural firm and now she lives and works in Vancouver. She writes “It is just before work and I am having a cup of coffee and reading your Garden Report. Thank you for keeping me informed about what is happening in the garden and around the community in Regina. I just wanted to share with you, that I am very happy that things have progressed with you being able to have your treatment at home. This will make your life more tolerable than having to go to the hospital three times a week. I remember taking my mom to the hospital for her treatment and the anxiety it caused for her. So this sounds like home dialysis is easier on the body, mind and spirit. Now I will get back to reading the rest of The Garden Report”.

Canadian Artist Series Rose 'Campfire'
     • Joanne Crofford loved the photo of newbie readers, Sebastian and Pascal. “The photos of plants and flowers are always appreciated, but could anything be more beautiful than the two little human flowers. Just blossoming.”

     • Mike Liske writes in regarding gardening with rocks. “Rod, in my opinion, rocks and boulders should be used to enhance the plant material, not draw your focus to the stone. I would much rather say “look at that rose”.

     • Marcus Fernando is responding to one of last week’s topics: “On the subject of sanctimoniousness, which comes with age, I have always been a crusading, tub-thumping, card-carrying anti-smoker. As a university student in the 80's, and a young actor for some years afterwards, this clearly did not fit in with the expected pattern of behavior for someone of my age. Eyebrows were raised. Discussions were commenced: Was it for religious reasons? Damn! I think I've finally grown into my sanctimoniousness!”

     • Robert Barbour from Ituna is a first time responder. He asks: “Hi Rod. I receive your Report from a friend in Regina and really like it. I have read in gardening magazines, in particular Organic Gardening, about planting a green vetch in the fall and tilling it into the soil in the spring as a green compost. My question is, do you know of a store or garden centre that sells the seed in Regina as I would like to give a try?” Rod’s answer: You could try The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. I have purchased odd ball grasses from them in the past. If not, give a call to Early’s in Saskatoon. They carry soup to nuts when it comes to seeds.

     • Jackie Arnason has this to say about The Exhibition. “I too remember when the Regina Ex was the highlight of my summer. Back in the day, my oldest daughter was working at the Glencairn playground and we made a zillion paper flowers for her float. Then I started to volunteer at the Ex and spent thirty-five summers enjoying the ambience, the fun and the food. Sadly, last year cured me of this as there is nothing left for those of us who don't gamble or climb, screaming off of expensive rides. Whatever happened to all the artists, cooks, needle workers and wine makers who used to display their wonderful works?”

     • Jodi Sadowsky agrees with Jackie about The Ex. “I agree about the Regina Exhibition, as well. A waste of time and money.”

     • Roberta Nichol was there at the very first, Regina Folk Festival. Here is her remembrance. “I have to say that the beauty of The Folk Festival is that it is multi-generational. It doesn't seem to go out of style. It's not trendy. The young, the not so young, and even children, all arrive in droves. And to think that this wonderful Folk Festival started with Richard Jack, and his friends Terry Yuzik, Ken Chesko and Glenn Wolfe. They decided to create a Folk Festival in the Newman Building of the University. It was magic. Magic! And a sixteen year old Roberta Nichol passed the audition, and was absolutely honored to be singing. I was in the company of musical royalty: Humphrey and the Dumptrucks, Don Freed, who would have been about nineteen and a fifteen year old Bob Evans sat in the audience, dreaming of when he'd be up there, too. Soon to follow: Rob Bryanton, songwriter extraordinaire and a fifteen year old Jack Semple, with all that big, curly hair, who was so shy he couldn't look up when he played.”

Some of Stew and Shirley's containers
     • Stew and Shirley Wass love to garden in Indian Head, a community rich in good gardeners. They sent along a nice photo of their containers. Here is what they had to say. “Just had to get our two cents worth in. First thing Sunday morning, The Garden Report, a cup of coffee, and a trip to the bathroom, and not necessarily in that order! A year ago we sold our home of nineteen years in beautiful, historic Indian Head and moved into a duplex with much less outdoor space. To accommodate our need to grow lots of colorful flowers, we've taken to growing our favorite dahlias in large containers. We loaded up the front of the barrels with wave petunias. The dahlias were just beginning to bloom profusely.”

• Garden Tip: I have been noticing our annual outbreak of whitefly, especially in the Virginia Creepers. Try some Trounce or Endall. Both are organic. Remember to spray the bottom side of the leaves. Another tip is to spray the plants with water. Whitefly hate to be disturbed and this can help move them along, to your neighbor’s yard. Good gardeners share, even their pests.

• Garden Tip: If you want your roses to rebloom, then deadheading is a must. You must remove the dead flower and its stem back to a complete set of leaves, which is usually five or seven leaves. This encourages new buds to form.

This is one of the roses being trialed-#291

• In town: We had Michel Touchette, from Jeffries Nursery out of Portage La Prairie, for supper last Sunday. Michel is a very, well known member of the nursery trades and he has been trying with great effort, to look after the Morden rose research. As many of you know, the federal government cut funding to horticulture and the roses developed at Morden were in danger of disappearing. Michel, along with several others, have been developing and promoting The Canadian Artist Rose Series. Coming out next year is ‘Campfire’ named in honor of Group of Seven artist, Tom Thompson. Michel shared one of those new introductions with us.

• Garden Tip: The last time to fertilize your lawn in Saskatchewan is coming up. August 15th is considered as being that date. Now, in the box stores you will find many promotions for fall fertilizer. Ignore them. They don’t know what they are talking about. Was that subtle enough?

• Learn from your mentor: My beloved mentor listened patiently as an old time gardener lectured him on sedum. I asked him why he listened, and he said, “the man had a story to tell and I let him tell it.” This week, I stopped into a box store to pick up a tropical plant for a project that I was working on. The woman in charge of the greenhouse asked me about the plant, and I referenced it by its common name. She corrected me with another name. I explained that her name was the Latin name and the name I had used was the common name. Most plants have two names. She insisted I was wrong, that her use of the Latin name was the one and only correct name and that there was no other. For a moment I was tempted to explain my pedigree to her and then I remembered how my mentor handled those situations. My response to her insistence that I was wrong? I said “how about that? I learn something new every day.” I walked away. No fuss. No muss. Thank you Dieter.

• Speaking of chain stores: I have mentioned this before. It drove me crazy when some anonymous caller would ask my advice and then complain that it did not match that which they had obtained at Canadian Tire. That’s right. The same Canadian Tire where the manager did not know what a dianthus was, let alone a zinnia. I had one woman tell me that Canadian Tire was expecting their shipment of tulip bulbs any day. The problem? It was May!
 • Speaking of tulips: Tulip season is coming up. You normally plant tulips, sometime in September or early October, after the frost has leveled your annuals. As readers know, I go overboard with tulips, planting as many as a thousand to fifteen hundred bulbs in my own garden. My pitch? Tulips give you a burst of color in your garden from mid April until early June, long before you dare plant your petunias. Tulips and other fall bulbs are frost tolerant and they provide a joy to everyone’s heart, after a long winter. Did I say winter?

• Garden Tip: There has been an outbreak of Forest Tent Caterpillars in the city. They weave a cocoon that resembles a clear, plastic bag, attached to the branches of mature trees. Two treatment options. BTK is an organic and it takes about three to seven days to work. Quicker results can be obtained by using Ambush which works on contact and has a residual affect with leaf chewing.

• We have a winner: We were on our way to Da India Curry House on Tuesday. They were closed. So I asked the Mrs. if she felt adventurous. “There is this place over on the twelve block of Albert. A rough neighborhood and it looks a little scary. I drive by it on my way to the north Albert dialysis clinic. Do you want to give it a try?” She agreed. We pulled into the small, out front, parking lot. The name is Tandoori Kabab Touch. It is a Pakistani joint, not Indian. Don’t ask me to explain the difference. They are Moslem, so don’t even think of asking if they have a pork dish. We walked in. It is much bigger than it appears on the outside. We were the only customers. That made us nervous. The woman who greeted us was very friendly, the place was clean and the food in the kitchen smelled wonderful, so we took a chance. We were rewarded with a meal, fit for royalty. Filled with flavors, deep and savory. We had two kebabs from their tandoori oven, one with beef and one with chicken. We had a curry dish with cottage cheese and green peppers. Add in some rice, raita (a yogurt salad), two chutneys and some naan bread, baked with spiced onions. Knock my socks off, good. With two chai teas, no dessert, tax and tip included, it was sixty-four bucks. There were some leftovers that we packaged up for the next day. Regular readers know that I am rarely impressed with most restaurants, but this one has flavor coming out the kazoo. Mark it down as a winner.

Time to fertilize your lawn
• Folk Festival time: So far, so good. We took in Friday’s gig and it was a slow start. There were five headline acts and the first three did not do it for us. I often explain The Folk Festival in the same way I explain The Fringe Festival. You pay your money and you take your chances. Sometimes you hit gold, other times you go for a walk. Who knocked the proverbial socks off of us and our friends? Mavis Staple. Even at an advanced age, she still has what it takes to get an audience shaking their booties. Jim Cuddy followed her and while I am not a big fan of his, he certainly does hire first rate back up musicians. They really impressed me. It was a good time. The wonderful people to visit with, including sharing the event with our resident landscape architect, Ingrid Thiessen, and her husband Lawrence, and it was the right vibe, all night. Sunday night, the closer is Emmy Lou Harris and we can’t wait. For those curious, yes, I did pass around the popcorn again. I explained to the old folkies surrounding us that it used to be joints that were passed, now it’s the popcorn. That joke sold. We’re pathetic.

• Farmers’ Market: Fresh beans, both green and yellow are available and looking good.

• Grampa Report: Due to modern technology, I can report that if you are knitting something for our grandchild on the way, then I suggest you think pink.

Our Legislative Building at sunset- photo by Jan Pederson
 • Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in ‘What? More rain!' Regina, Saskatchewan

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