Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Garden Report #95

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

My youngest son is a computer nerd and so is his cat!
• Writers write: When I was a young man, I believed that to compromise meant that you lost. As I got older, and hopefully matured, I came to realize that a couple of compromises and quite often, you got what you were after. Sometimes, the compromise worked out to be a better solution than your original gambit. Compromise, both offered and accepted, became more and more of how I worked.

     When I was in business, on rare occasion, I would find myself on the other end of a conversation with an unhappy customer. If I could fix the problem right away, it was done. Much easier for the both of us that way. Sometimes, the customer would put forward a request that was difficult to accomplish. My rule of thumb was to offer a compromise, meeting them half way, plus ten percent. I soon found out that those who were decent folks, would understand that I was trying to be fair, and agree. Those who were out for blood, usually saw my offer of a compromise as a sign of weakness on my part and they pushed harder. They were wrong.

     One day, about fifteen years ago, there was a lawyer sitting in my office. He was wearing his Brooks’ Brothers suit and a Rolex. He was making demands of me that were not reasonable. He was trying to intimidate me, thinking that in my jeans and t-shirt, I had just fallen off of the turnip truck. I extended to him an olive branch. I offered a compromise that would resolve his complaint. He demanded all or nothing and indicated he was about to sue. “Do what you have to do.” I said. What else could I say.

     He sued, thinking that I would fold under the presence of his downtown, law firm title. What he failed to realize was that I don’t back down. I am part Scot and part bull dog, which are in essence, the same thing. He should have watched the movie, ‘Braveheart’. I put on my fancy, Sunday go to meeting suit, and showed up in court. How much was he suing me for? Try $250. He must not have had much to do that day.

     He presented his case then it was my turn. I told the judge that I had tried to compromise. That I had offered a settlement. The judge looked at the lawyer, turned plaintiff, and asked him why he had not accepted the compromise? The lawyer looked embarrassed, almost sheepish. I presented the rest of my case and when finished, the judge tossed the lawyer’s case out. He got nothing.

     The news of my win and thus his defeat, spread through the legal community like a prairie, wild fire. The other lawyers in town knew that he had virtually nothing to gain by suing me and everything to lose, especially his reputation. Yet, he had preceded.

     So, was I gracious in my victory. Not at all. By this time, he had ticked me off, beyond belief. I ran into one of his partners and I sent a message to him: “Anytime you are bored and you want me to lay another licking on you, go ahead and file.”

     So far, no more law suits. In fact, his was the one and only time I was sued, in thirty-five years. Compromise works, most of the time.

     To finish off this rant/editorial, today, that same man is a sitting Queen’s Bench Judge. No doubt, he is older and wiser and now values olive branches.

• Readers write:

A nine petal lily in the center
     • Kathleen Livingston is a new reader and she sent along a photo of a nine petal lily. Most lilies have six, as you can count in the surrounding flowers. Dr. Wilbert Ronald, of Jeffries Nursery fame, is our resident lily expert. He comments that eight or nine petals is pretty unique and worth publishing here. Kathleen sent this bit of info along. “I am watching the resulting ovary develop and am fairly confident that this sport will re-appear next summer! Hope your readers enjoy counting the petals and the stamens!”

• Adela Hayko from Edmonton writes “Thanks Rod. I enjoy your Report. Nice pictures.”

Roberta and her pup, Gracie-both are readers
     • Bobby Sue continues on with her comedic studies. “Just as an aside, I found you particularly hilarious in this week's Report. I found myself giggling quite a bit, and it helped to make my day! Now, don't let this go to your head! I can hear you singing, "Oh, Lord, it's hard to be humble”.”

     • Neil Slater took in the afternoon workshops at The Folk Festival. Here is his take on one of them. “I only got to see a bit of Sunday afternoon at the Folk Festival. Arlo Guthrie was amazing, and had more people listening to his workshops than have attended many main stages in years past.”

     • Sandra Rayson puts some faith into the gardening business. Sandra knows that God grows the crops that we tend. “I read The Garden Report with interest; especially the part about not just depending on the sprinklers. I had come to that conclusion years ago, so prayed for rain frequently with good success.”

     • Rex Deverell, one of our many resident playwrights, has not responded for some time. He is still a reader and this week he writes “Good newsletter, Rod. Encouragement to the gardening weary. Now do you have any advice for us who have Orange Thumb (as in Agent Orange)?” I asked Rex for clarification on the ‘Agent Orange’ comment. Rex assured me that he was not sprayed himself, but he has an uncanny ability to destroy the plants that he touches, as did Agent Orange.

     • The Garden Report started out with a hundred readers and now we have over three thousand. The number of active readers goes up and down with the season, peaking in March through June. The readership has increased because of forwards from regular readers to friends and associates. Jim Tomkins reads us every Sunday and has told friends about the blog, including Joan Roy. Here is her first time response. “Thanks for including us on your list. Jim and Lynn have told us so much about your interesting blogs.”

     • Georgia Hearn is a regular reader and often a responder. This week she writes “Read #94 at seven a.m. and had a great laugh. I feel the same about all comments, but cannot comment on prostrate issue . But you are correct in that men have to get on board and I can just picture Dr. Joan ( I am laughing). You will definitely fall for that baby girl and be a great grandfather. Thanks for gardening helps. Everything you recommend has worked!”

     • Bobbi Jo Cook lives in Vancouver, studying to become a film/television writer. When she is back home in Regina, she works diligently to become my favorite niece (Ian and Denise Cook’s daughter). Full disclosure completed, she writes “I loved your last Garden Report.”

     • CJ Katz was in Kelowna on a bit of a break from her job as a professional eater. All of us should land that gig. CJ writes “We start heading back from Kelowna, tomorrow. The gardens here are doing well. I visited the Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm. If you're ever out this way do stop in for a visit. The gardens are lovely, filled with sixty varieties of lavender, plus herbs, perennials and grasses. They have a store and cafe selling lavender products. The entire place is relaxing and meditative.” Rod’s note: Check out CJ’s book launch.  She’s just not a member of The Good Eaters’ Club. The girl can write and she can cook.

     • One of our resident actors and directors, enjoyed the genealogical bit from #94. Marcus Fernando writes “ Loved the grandparent photos. Strangely enough, I'd just been visiting family over on the island of Guernsey, where I grew up. I found my Grandparents' old photo album, dating to the 1930's. Pictures showed them before they were married, having fun together, striking poses on the beach. Of course, in the photos they were younger than I am now: how delightful to see that in some ways, the generation gap simply doesn't exist. In other, later photos, I can be found striking similar poses on those same beaches. Incidentally Rod: that photo of your Grandfather could easily be one of you, a few years on. Family resemblance or what? Maybe if I were to stick a moustache on the photo of your Grandmother, I might get a similar vision!”

     • Jean MacKay is a proud Scot, as if there is any other type. She writes: “Good Day, Rod from your Scots friend. My family came from Ayrshire Scotland, although earlier than yours did. They were Hutchison’s. We MacKays came home from Scotland last night and had a great time. We stayed in a castle near Inverness for five days and then bused on to Edinburgh for, no kidding, The Fringe Festival! Our hotel was a few feet away from the action!”

     • Ann Anderson is getting caught up on her Garden Reports. “I've been on vacation, away from my computer, and finally sat down to read the last four issues of The Garden Report. As always, you've brightened my day. I always enjoy the photos. The garden photos make me envious of those with a yard as my four balcony pots pale in comparison. While your grandmother might have been a "tough broad", her flawless skin looks as though she was made of delicate porcelain. I can't help rolling my eyes at men fearful of having a prostate exam. Have they heard of the indignity of a pap test? Thank you again for sharing your gift of words. Take care.”

• Garden Tip: If you have a bit of powdery mildew showing up, try spraying with a sulfur product called Defender. It is an organic. Powdery mildew shows up quite often on caraganas. It looks as if someone has sprayed a light coat of white paint. It can also show up on lawns, especially in shaded areas.

• Give my regards to Broadway: With College Avenue being closed for construction, I have been using Broadway Avenue to get over to the east side of town. I have been impressed with all of the improvements to the housing stock in this neighborhood that was built in the 1950’s. Residents are putting new paint, brickwork, steps, walks, windows and landscaping into their residences. It is always a positive sign when a neighborhood is renovating their housing.

• Garden Tip: If your lawn is appearing under watered in spite of all the rain we have had, chances are that the soil is compacted and the water has been running off of it instead of draining down into the subsoil. Soil aeration is a good thing for a lawn and it is not restricted to the spring time. I usually have my lawn aerated every fall. Give Drew a call at Mr. Caretaker at 586-0828. He always does my lawn and is very reliable.

• A perfect Sunday: The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, The Symphony was playing as were other bands, and to make a Scotsman’s heart beat with joy, it was all free, no charge, gratis. We arrived with our lawn chairs in tow and joined the other five thousand people taking in the afternoon. Wow! Don’t you just love the sound of the cannons firing in synch to The 1812? And where else can you listen to classical music while munching on a fully loaded, foot long hot dog?

Trial rose #291-I am giving this one a test
• Good gardeners share: Courtesy of Michel Touchette, I am now growing a trial rose, #291, faithfully reporting to Michael how it is doing. This week, it is in glorious bloom. Was that reporting or bragging? I can’t tell the difference any more. If you are a dedicated rose fancier, and wish to take a look at our new baby, fire off an email and we can set up a time for you to peruse a new rose.

• Garden Tip: Stu Wass was in town from Indian Head for a garden visit. Stu and I were talking about the work and effort that goes into gardening. He had an interesting comment. Stu said that he is tired of hearing from people that we should plant perennials instead of annuals, because they require no work. Not true. Perennials do require a degree of attention or else they look terrible. First, and foremost, perennials must be divided to maintain their youthful appearance and vigor. This is a major issue often overlooked by some gardeners. My daylilies and strawberries, get divided and given away every three years or so. This is one of those years to do so. If not, the strawberries don’t produce worth a ‘fill in the blank’ and the daylilies choke themselves out, early in the season.

• Garden Tip: Speaking of dividing, around the middle of September, most lilies that are overgrown, can be dug up, the bulbs divided and replanted or given away. I find that most Asiatic lilies really enjoy a division every five years or so. When you do replant the bulbs, remember that they thrive with more sun than shade. Plant your lilies eight inches down to the base of the bulbs and plant the bulbs, pointed side up. Peat moss, bone meal and bulb dust all assist in promoting better growth.

• Saskatchewan humor: According to reader Dave Calam, a sure sign of a Saskatchewan person with no friends is someone who has to buy zucchini at The Farmers’ Market. Another variation of that joke is this one. People in Saskatchewan lock their cars during August and September, so that gardeners don’t leave a bag of zucchini in their back seats.

• Saskatchewan humor #2: Along the same lines, my tomato plants have been producing heavily this season. I have become so desperate to find homes for all of them that the Jehovah Witness’ who call at my door are being handed tomatoes in exchange for their Awake Magazines. Soon, they will be afraid to call on me.

• It’s true: When the provincial government destroyed SCN and then removed the Film Tax Credit, many of these film people said they were going to move elsewhere, because there was no work for them in Saskatchewan. Well, it is happening. I have lost several friends to other provinces because there was nothing left for them here. Along with that, my friends who are too entrenched here to move, often due to their age, are now working in other fields. One of our well known actors is stocking shelves at a grocery store to pay the bills. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with stocking shelves. It’s honest, hard work. The question is, why is he not acting?

• It’s true #2: This week in the newspaper, there was an article about the effects of reduced funding from The Province for Dutch Elm Disease control. The Province at one time, did a fifty/fifty share with local administrations to remove infected trees. Now that funding has been cut and small municipalities are left on their own. They are not keeping up and Dutch Elm Disease has totally surrounded our city. The past few years, Regina has been losing a handful of elm trees each year and the urban forest can handle that. We can replace those few trees. Here is the question: What would Regina’s older areas look like if we lost half or two thirds of our urban forest? It has happened before, especially in Minnesota. When I took DED courses, we were often shown two photos of a town in Minnesota. One, before Dutch Elm Disease arrived and one after. Not to be melodramatic, but it was as if we were looking at a war zone, with the destruction of their trees.

• The Farm Report: Harvest of winter wheat is well under way, south of town. Farmer Reg Gross tells me that some parts of his fields are bringing in 90 to 96 bushels. Of course, there are other parts that were too wet to seed and they are bringing in nothing. He is expecting an average of close to eighty bushels and acre. Reader/farmer Brian Lowe, has begun to harvest his crop of peas, north of town by Zehner. I have not seen any canola or spring wheat being combined as of this writing, but soon. The earlier planted spring wheat is just about golden. The later planted spring wheat is half green and half yellow.

'Valiant' grape are perfectly hardy in our area and produce
 • The Apple Report: This is not about computers. Nope. This is about real apples, as in ‘apple apples’. I have tasted a ‘Hardi Mac’, a ‘Norland’, a ‘Honeycrisp’ and a ‘Harcourt’ recently, as they ripened. All are hardy for our area and all were very, very good. There is something special about a prairie apple. If you tend toward the sweeter side of life as I do, then note that ‘Harcourt’ apple is one of the sweetest.

• The new, old, folk music: Peter Sawchyn at Sawchyn Guitars on Dewdney, across from Bushwackers, has been filling a void in the Regina music scene. Peter has started up a series of house concerts at his shop, featuring some of the original performers from the folk scene. Last night, Roberta Nichol sang the lyrics that have spoken to her over the years. Another night, Ray Bell filled the shop and coming up on September 15th is the duet of Patty Tutty and Norm Walker. If you remember the ‘Four D’ Coffee House in River Heights, you will enjoy this gig. Get your tickets early as the shop only holds thirty people.

• The man knows of what he speaks: I have a Greek friend, named Gus. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it. Gus has one of those hard to pronounce, for me at least, last names. To distinguish Gus from all the other Greek Gus’ (or should that be Gusii?) I nicknamed him ‘Burger King Gus’. Everyone inside the Greek community and outside of it always know who I am talking about. Gus does some developing around town and is much more in the know than I am. He told me two years ago, the condo development at the former site of The Plains Hotel, called Capital Pointe, was iffy. His exact words were “you can believe it when you see it”. He told me that the condo called The Gardens on Rose and the other one over at 15th and Broad would be going up long before Capital Pointe. I asked why? Fair question. He said that the people at The Capital Pointe project did not know what they were doing. After two years, he has been proven right. The lot sits fenced in with absolutely no signs of construction. But they sure did publish some great looking artists drawings in their full page, newspaper ads.

• What’s wrong with this world: I was in my local credit union, on Hill Avenue. This old fart comes over to talk to me. I didn’t’ know him but he seemed to know me. I figured that he was probably the father of one of my friends. Finally, I asked “who are you?” Turns out he is the younger brother of one of my friends. This is not fair.

• Garden Tip: As I walk through the neighborhood, I am struck by how many of the hanging baskets and containers, which looked really nice through May, June and July, have deteriorated. To keep it simple: Most of the baskets I have seen are starving. “Feed me” they are screaming in plant language. Give your baskets and pots a good shot of fertilizer, I use 10 30 20, now. You still have a full six to ten weeks of enjoyment left so don’t’ let them deteriorate.

• Plant sale: Mike Liske from Classic Landscape has a few plants left over from a big job. He has them priced to move. I don’t have anything to do with this, but I will put you in contact with him, if you have an interest. Here is his extra’s list:

• 2 - Top Graft Dwarf Korean Lilac regular $150 Selling at $100 (the heads are a bit light but will look good in one to two years time)

• 8 - Siberian Iris regular $12 Selling at $7

• 3 – Bergenia regular $15 Selling at $10

• 8 - Stella D'Oro Daylily regular $12 Selling at $7

• 1 - Nest Spruce regular $100 Selling at $60

• 1 - Globe Blue Spruce #10 regular $200 Selling at $120

• Beyond words: My mother, when she was babysitting her first born grandson in 1977, called me. She just wanted me to know that the baby had presented her with a “perfectly formed poop.” Now, I might be a gardener and gardeners are supposed to be somewhat of experts regarding manure, but this was too much for me. I had to ask. “Mom, what does a less than perfectly formed poop look like?”

• The Grandpa Report: In the last few weeks, I have been bombarded with emails that predict I am about to lose my crusty exterior. The bulldog/pit-bull part of my personality is about to disappear. They suggest, I will become this feminine version of myself. Bah, humbug!

I think I will bite the next person who writes such things, just to prove a point.

Grape vines are a lovely screen
Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in summer’s still here…Regina