Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Garden Report #104

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Spring tulips in a vase-just dreaming
• Writers write: I grew up in the shadows of Taylor Field, along Dewdney Avenue. From the age of eight and on, I was allowed to attend football games by myself. This was in a time when parents didn’t worry about pedophiles. I would walk over and pay my ten cents to watch three high school football games on a Friday night. My mother would pack me a lunch as I would be gone from four p.m. until nine. I loved football and there I sat, in the upper part of the stands, watching the plays unfold. Other kids were in attendance, but they were more interested in fooling around than watching the game.

Sometimes, I would move down the grandstand to sit slightly above the designated high school sections. I was fascinated by their pep bands, cheers and festivities. Don’t ask me why, but I was enraptured with Balfour Collegiate and fantasized that one day, I would attend that institution. Their team, The Redmen, dominated high school football through the sixties with Gord Currie as their coach. Now, at the risk of receiving some angry letters from former Balfour students, by the time Grade Nine arrived, I knew that Balfour was not where I should be. That is another story.

On Saturdays, I would pay my twenty-five cents and take in a Ram’s game. I memorized the rosters and I had my heroes. Again, I would sit by myself, not running around with the other kids, seeking lost treasures underneath the grandstand. I suspect that was my genesis as writer. To write, one has to observe and to observe means that on occasion, the writer cannot participate.

A dime for the high school games, a quarter for The Rams and then the ultimate game itself, The Riders. That was fifty cents and I sat in the end zone labeled ‘The Rider Rookies’. Kids from those days remember the mayhem of that experience. Four hundred grade school students, 99% boys, running around and screaming. It was chaos on steroids. You could not sit by yourself and watch the game as the pandemonium swept up all in attendance. The Grade Eight boys ruled the stands and enforced their will with a few punches to the shoulder. That was called ‘a pounding’. Stories were told of how allegedly some bigger kid had a girlfriend and that they had “even kissed and everything.” Need I write that we had no idea what “everything” consisted of but it did sound fascinating to our Grade Four ears.

Little boys have vivid imaginations and what we did not know, did not prevent the story from being told. Some kid would regale us with the tale of how he had snuck into the dressing room and stolen a football. The ultimate story was that of being a policeman’s son. If your dad was a cop, you could essentially rule with an iron fist as everyone knew that with one call, he could have you arrested.

Eventually you get older and you no longer believed that some kid from Benson walked along the power lines, high above the street, as if he were a circus performer or that another kid from Thompson, had a brother who played in The NHL. Sooner or later, innocence is lost and what is left are the memories to be mined for stories, if you are to be a writer.

• Readers write:

The Pasterfield twins, Sally and Susan and me-friends for 46 years!
• From Victoria, B.C., Sally Orr writes “I enjoy every Garden Report, thank you so much. Speaking of flowers, lots still blooming in my garden.”

• Marsha Kennedy responds this week. “I am sitting up in bed with some tea and enjoying your Sunday Report. I had to laugh at your story about you and your father. Even at that young age, your tenacity and humor was fully developed.”

• Roberta Nichol is not thrilled with the ward boundaries nor am I. “I have to say, as I was driving around a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice the signs on the lawn, marking Ward 2, Ward 3, etc. It actually puzzled me; I was momentarily confused as to what Ward I was in. When I realized that I was #2, then, I had further questions, which relate very well to your entry on ward boundaries. Why, a few blocks down, is it Ward 3? This is one area, right? It does seem very strange to me, also, that it would be done like this. I kind of understand the problem of population and numbers, but this plan doesn't work real well for me either. It just doesn't make sense. Odd.”

• Sherrie Tutt has found her own way of preserving begonia bulbs. She tells us “Hi Rod: I was very interested in your instructions about begonia bulbs. I have been saving mine for several years. Two, a yellow and red, are now about five years old. They get larger each year and for the past several have made a splendid display in a pot in my west-facing, well-shaded, front yard. The others brighten my very shady back yard. I wait until the soil is fairly dry, remove the green growth, shake off as much soil as possible and place each in its own separate brown bag and store in cardboard box, in a closet in my office. Perhaps not as cool an area as it should be. What are the advantages of using bulb dust and peat moss?” Rod’s answer: Peat moss will protect the bulb from drying out and bulb dust stops insect attacks and mould. If you have success doing it your way, who can argue with good results? Keep up the excellent work.

Cute kids modelling costumes at The Kidney Foundation Gala
 • Winter shutdown: In my career, the earliest we had to shut down landscaping and garden activities was October 15th, 1984. I didn’t have too many things put away on that date and it snowed. I thought that it would melt so I left my work unfinished and then it snowed again and again. It was April before I could tidy up the garden center and my yard. The latest into the season that I have worked was 1997 and 1998. I delivered poinsettias in my shirt sleeves those years. It was so unseasonably warm.

• Spring startup: The earliest that I have been able to start was April 2nd of this year followed by April 7th of 1981. Both were early spring starts. The latest starts were 2002 and 2004. Both years were very wet springs and planting was difficult to accomplish until early June.

• You can’t please everyone: In an early spring, people are anxious to get going and they start arriving at the greenhouse to shop around April 15th to the 25th. Most greenhouse crops are planned to be at their max for May 24th. People complain, vigorously, that the plants are too small, even though they are a month away from the traditional planting season. In a late year, people will be shopping at the end of May and the first two weeks of June. Not surprisingly, the bedding plants are somewhat overgrown by a week or two and then they complain that the plants are too tall. Where is Goldilocks when you need her?

• Winter bulbs: If you are a garden enthusiast, you can plant fall bulbs inside and get them to grow. Amaryllis and paper whites require no chilling period so you can plant them and they will start growing quite soon. Remember that it is almost impossible to time amaryllis bulbs. You might want them to bloom for Christmas but they have a mind of their own. Some will bloom in November and the odd stubborn one will not bloom until March. Paper whites are much easier to time. Keep in mind that some people really enjoy the fragrance of paper whites and others find it too strong.

• Winter bulbs #2: Tulips and daffodils can be grown in pots and they require a twelve to fourteen week chilling period. A chilling period means 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I always plant my tulips nice and tight as in seven bulbs to a six inch pan. Leave the tips sticking through the potting soil and water them once before placing them in the fridge. When you bring your bulbs out from their chilling period, start growing them in a lower light and after two or three days, move to a stronger light area.

Lovely poinsettias at The Marian Center
• Poinsettia season coming up: Usually around early November, you will see poinsettias in the stores. This is an early crop and if you wish to purchase one to get the season going, go ahead. But do understand that 99% of the early poinsettias do not make it to Christmas. If that is important to you, be prepared to purchase another one in December.

• Poinsettia care: Never place a poinsettia in a draft or by a register. Bad, bad, plant grower if you do that. Also, the easiest way to kill one is to overwater it. Every year, I would see more poinsettias killed with kindness than with neglect. Poinsettias can actually tolerate being ‘run dry’ or under watered on occasion. The very best way to water a poinsettia is to fill the sink with two inches of water. Place the plant, without its cover, into the sink and let it soak up as much water as it wants for ten minutes. Always place your poinsettia into a water proof saucer as the decorative cover can leak and stain furniture.

• Fringe news: Jodi Sadowsky, our loyal reader and producer of The Regina Fringe, wants us to know that Rob Gee from England is returning to our festival in 2013. Rob impressed many people with his show about a psych nurse, two years ago. Increasingly, The Regina Fringe has returning performers, in spite of being the smallest Fringe on the circuit. The reason is quite simple. The performers are treated very well here and they enjoy the experience, even if they don’t rake in the big bucks of Winnipeg and Edmonton.

• The doggy in the window: In 1953, Pattie Page’s version of ‘How much is that doggy in the window?’ went to Number One on Billboard’s hit list. It received air time all the way through the fifties. In 1956, I was four years old and in our neighborhood, we had a drycleaner. The drycleaner had a cute but ruffled little dog that sat in the window of the shop, wagging its tail at those who passed by. I was convinced the song had been written about that very dog. I am not certain if this is a true memory or an invented one, but I seem to remember singing that song to that dog.

• So what has happened?: I was at a seminar. The instructor asked how many of the thirty in attendance knew how to sing? Two people put up their hands. He then asked how many of us knew how to draw? This time, three people put up their hands. He told us that he had asked his daughter’s Grade One class those same two questions and everyone put up their hands. “What has happened to us since Grade One?” was his next question.

• Things change: Around 1973, there was a nurse who lived three doors down from us. She was returning to work at The Grey Nuns Hospital and she needed child care. Daycares were not prevalent at the time. My mom volunteered to look after the three year old. The first few days that the nurse dropped off her child, the kid screamed and cried and carried on. She was upset that her mom was leaving her. Now, you had to know my mom and how she could look after little kids. They watched her soaps in the afternoon, had a nap together on the couch and then a tea party, with the dog and the cat as special guests. Before the week was up, the crying was now at the other end of the day. When the mother came to pick up her child, her kid screamed and carried on because she wanted to stay with Auntie Bea. I ran into that little girl this week. We talked. She is now forty and still has fond memories of her days with Auntie Bea who would host a tea party for a cat and dog.

Pink peonies with a few white impatients- again, dreaming.
• Lunch with Daniel: My first rate nephew, Daniel Jackson, takes me for lunch to celebrate my birthday. He was a bit tardy this year, as in six weeks late, but we made it out this past Friday. Daniel wanted to check out Tandoori as I have written highly of their food. We arrived but it was closed due to the Muslim holiday of EID. We headed further north on Albert to Afghan Cuisine for their lunch buffet. It is a bit more money than most places as in thirteen bucks plus tax and tip, but it is worth it. We had some very tasty ground beef kebabs, an incredible chutney made from mint and vinegar that is neither sweet nor hot but still divine and their version of rice pudding, made with rose water, is to die for. Trust me on this one, as I am a rice pudding aficionado, it is fantastic. I told the cook that her version was so good that next week I was coming in and skipping the buffet and heading straight for her dessert. I think I am joking but then again?

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in brrr, it’s getting cold Regina.

No comments:

Post a Comment