Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Garden Report #119

Sunday, February 10th

This rose is being trialed and not yet released #291
• Writers write: This is the Valentine edition of The Garden Report, dedicated to love and other blood sports. I have a young friend in his early thirties. He has not had much experience with relationships so when he met the right woman, he was unsure of himself and his role. He would phone me, two or three times a week for advice: That was until Maureen overheard me dispensing without a licence. Her side of the story is that I was the last person he should turn to for direction. My side was: I am a long time survivor and therefore in a divinely ordained position to provide information to someone inexperienced in these matters. His relationship did not survive the first year, but he assured me it was not my advice that led to the demise, rather his insistence that he had a right to his own opinion. Big mistake. Really big. He will either learn from this fatal construct or else one day he will be an elderly gentleman, walking down the street, feeding the pigeons, snorting “I am right. I am always right!”

• Readers write:

• Doug Gummeson writes tongue in cheek: “I was blessed to get #118 twice, one right after the other. My first thought was wow, this one must be good, he wants me to read it twice. Actually I sometimes do as first I skim and then I dig deeper. Thanks for sending it.”

• Terena Murphy Bannerman tells us something from her past. “My mum has a saying about rumours and gossip. " If people are busy talking about me, it means they're keeping their nasty tongues off someone else".”

• Dora Mushka asks a good question. “Are you being facetious when writing about Conrad Black?” And the answer is a big, fat yes!

A lovely collection of containers
• Jackie Arnason makes me laugh. “ I must tell you that my screen is licked clean after seeing the lemon cake. Somehow the flavour doesn't come through though!”

• Garden tip: February or early March is a good time to start planting begonia tubers indoors. The earlier you start a begonia tuber, the bigger it will become when it is time to move it outdoors. The downfall of growing begonia tubers indoors is keeping them too wet. Begonias can rot quite easily if overwatered so care must be taken. The other tip is not to plant begonias too deep. The best depth is just below the surface of the potting soil with the tuber, cup side up, round side down. Also, begonias benefit from a good deal of light when first started. A sunny window without a draft is a good spot or else under a grow light. There was a time when begonia tubers were started by gardeners in large numbers. That has fallen off over the last twenty years. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a good selection of begonia tubers. All things in the gardening world have their moments to shine and then they move over to allow the next ‘best thing’ its turn.

• The flower of love: Roses are traditionally thought of as being the flower of love. In the florist business, young men under thirty purchase roses, almost exclusively. Older men purchase roses as well but they will look at other choices. Older men will also consider a potted plant such as an azalea or an assorted bouquet. My own personal favourites are alstromeria and tulips. Alstromeria are not only a lovely flower for the table but they also have longevity for a cut flower. Typically, my alstromeria bouquets last two weeks.

• Married man’s tip: The card is more important than the bouquet. Without the card, expressing the right sentiment with carefully selected words, it is a waste of money to purchase flowers. Put it in writing or it don’t count.

• True words: My friend Debbie runs Gale’s Florists on 13th. She said it best: “Never be involved with a flower holiday that is dependent upon men.” Why she spoke those words is because men do not pre book flowers. They just show up, or not. Florists never know how much to order. It is always a crap shoot.

• Young love: One of my first dates with a girl was in Grade Ten. She asked me to The Sadie Hawkins Dance. It turned out pretty good because she gave me a good night kiss, on the cheek. I didn’t have high expectations in those days. As a couple, we did not progress after that one date. She had to let me go as “you are just too immature to appreciate a woman such as myself.”

Lady Slipper Orchids in the wild
• Old love: I had a friend who was eighty. His wife of fifty years had passed away two years earlier. He was actually getting back out there in the meat market world of dating. When you are eighty, you don’t have much competition from the other dudes. He confided in me that he was confused by women and asked if I had any advice. My initial response was not too classy. I snorted. Unfortunately, I was drinking a glass of ginger ale when the snort occurred and the ginger ale found its way from my throat through my nasal passage. If you have never experienced this phenomena, let me assure you, the ginger ale really burns. As to the advice for my elderly friend, I had none other than “good luck, you’ll need it.”

• Garden Tip: If you want to improve your indoor gardening skills or you are just getting started growing your own seeds, invest in grow lights. There are a variety of options available from small and simple to large and complex. I have tried growing indoors since I no longer own a greenhouse. My results have been sad, very sad. A grow light really assists in seedling development. I have lots of south facing windows and there was not enough sunshine to produce what I considered decent plants.

• Things change: My mother would tell how she had to argue with my grandfather, so that she could attend Grades Nine and Ten. In the 1930s, girls usually stopped school at Grade Eight. My grandfather insisted “girls don’t need school. They get married and have babies.” Today, six of our provinces have female premiers. Things do change. The press has been having a field day with Ontario’s “first openly gay premier.” I want to know how whom we share our lives with at home has anything to do with running a government? I don’t see a connection. I am more interested in a balanced budget than someone’s private life. Should we be announcing Harper as “openly heterosexual”? There will come a day when our private lives are not news, but that day is not today. To quote the late Shirley Covey, who spoke these words at the age of ninety three: “The longer I live, the less concerned I am with who is sleeping with whom.” Well spoken.

• Too funny: The B.C. Premier is single. When first elected, a reporter asked if she would be dating, as Premier. Her response was better than a “none of your business” reply. She said “Why? Are you asking me out?”

Some of my containers
• ‘Show rooming’: Best Buy and Future Shop have been closing down several of their stores. The reason for the cutbacks is the phenomena of ‘show rooming’. ‘Show rooming’ is when consumers go into to a bricks and mortar store, examine the merchandise, get the advice of the staff, and then order online. The bricks and mortar stores estimate they are losing twenty-five per cent of their business in this fashion. In the garden center business, we put up with that long before any other industry, going back to the 1970s. I would receive 150 phone calls a day, 100 of which would be seeking advice for products that were purchased elsewhere. People would buy a plant from Wal Mart or another chain and call Lakeview for advice on planting and maintenance. I would often say “when it comes to free advice, people will settle for only the very best.”

• Where you gonna put it?: Another two inches of snow. The piles are getting higher and wider. Regina residents are running out of room to stack the white stuff. Snow on roofs is two feet thick. Stores have been selling out of roof rakes. It is a common site to see men shovelling the snow off of roofs. Come this spring, there are going to be a few damp basements. In the next month or two, it will be a good idea to shovel most of the snow away from foundations. The question is: Where are you going to put it?

• Roof rakes: Good luck finding one this year. Many places are sold out and those that do have a few, are not very good. I did find one at Peavey Mart out on Vic East. It was way better than the others I found for sale.

• Humane Society Telethon: This is an annual fundraising event. The Humane Society wants to raise $50,000 this year to fund their operations. Readers are only too aware of how I feel about our pets and the care they deserve. This was our first Christmas in many, many years without a cat or a dog and the house was a little lonely, at times. I suspect we will have a kitten or puppy in our lives in the near future, just not today.

• Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: My mother adopted a dog in the 1970s that laid claim to the title of ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’. The dog’s name was ‘Babe’ and she was a sight that caused sore eyes. Mom loved ‘Babe’, spoiling her as much as the grandchildren. When I would point out to my mother how homely ‘Babe’ was, my mother would cover ‘Babe’s’ ears and scold me: “Stop that! She is a very sensitive dog.”

Winterscape in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba
 • Garden Tip: Orchids love a moist environment and I have found that they do lovely in our bathroom, with its south facing window. If that doesn’t’ work for you, a pebble tray can help. Take a tray with a two inch lip and fill it with small pebbles. Fill the tray with water and place the orchid on top of the pebbles. The water evaporation assists in moisturizing the orchid.

• Poinsettia free: I did it. We are poinsettia free. It is always tough to get rid of a plant when it is still in good shape.

• Boys night in: Maureen was in Edmonton this week, being Grandma. She thinks that when she is gone that I have my buddies over for beer, poker and strippers. I wish. Here is the report of my one wild night this week. Readers Doug Gummeson and John C. joined me for supper on Wednesday. I served up a decent meal of lemon/rice soup for the starter, a fresh green salad with balsamic, wild salmon filet cooked with bacon and a maple syrup glaze, pan fried orange slices as a garnish for the fish, peas with a lime chutney sauce and a homemade apple pie for dessert. None of the three of us drink, so there was no booze. There was no poker game and if anyone had a strong desire to strip off their clothes, they resisted all temptation. In conclusion, dear reader, we had a great meal, a good time and we were boring as all get out. Had someone told me when I was twenty that this would be my idea of a fun night with the guys, I would have ended it right there and then.

• Don’t go: We were at The Symphony on Saturday night. Good gig. I developed a craving for ice cream and if you want ice cream on a Saturday night at eleven p.m., your choices are limited. The Dairy Queen is closed. We headed over to The Cold Stone Creamery which is a part of Tim Horton’s. We were there last summer, left disappointed and I should have learned. We spent eleven bucks on two ice cream desserts that lacked flavour and any sense of being a treat. A waste of calories and money.

• Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in Regina

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