Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Garden Report #124

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Rayanna-dressed for St. Patrick's Day
• Writers write: This week, the weather has dominated the news, every day, every night. Storms, blizzards, white outs. Highways have been closed, traffic backed up for miles, even Via Rail was delayed for twenty-four hours on their way into Saskatoon. One fellow, on his way home to Grand Coulee, spent the night on the road after his truck slammed into a snow drift, that had crossed his path. Very few injuries, just a lot of inconvenience. All of us can survive an inconvenience.

This has been a rough winter for all of us. Last year, I started pruning on April 2nd, the earliest start ever to the landscape season. Mike Liske at Classic Landscape finished his first brick job on April 7th. This year, uh, it will not be the same as last. I suspect that we will be sandbagging, along the edge of Rotary Park, shortly.

In 1973, when the mighty Wascana rose over its banks, our neighbourhood was cordoned off. There were security officers who inspected your driver’s licence before allowing you to enter. The City did not want the area filled with sight seekers as they worked to protect what they could. Jack Lyster and I had to move a couch from my house. It was strictly a coincidence that we were doing that task on a Sunday afternoon. CBC Television was driving by looking for a story. They stopped their van and out came a camera man and an interviewer, mike in hand, shouting “are you moving your stuff to higher ground?”

Never being shy of a microphone or a chance to do a little improv, I explained to the camera that yes, we were moving everything to higher ground. “I have lost confidence that The City will be able to hold the water back much longer.” Now, I am much more mature today than I was back in 1973, so I wish to apologize for raising the alarm bells. But it was so much fun to watch the evening news and see the interview run, uncut. This year, I think I will just help to fill the sandbags and not grant any more interviews. No doubt, The City Engineering Department will be appreciative of my silence.

• Readers write:

• Lyn Goldman was gallivanting down south. “What a pleasure to read you again! I've been in Mexico for a couple of weeks, and missed you. Good advice about contacting Heather -- I definitely need some design advice!”

• Roberta Nichol insists that she is not a follower. “Have you ever stopped to think that you are sending this Report out to thousands of people, asking about the frequency of changing your underwear? And the hilarious thing is, people are responding to it, including me? Amazing. Utterly amazing. Now, don't get the idea that you can play your little flute ( or trumpet, maybe) and lead us all into the river to drown. That's where I draw the line.” Rod’s note: For your information, my flute is not little, it is regulation size.

• Frank Flegel has a cutie for us. “A kindergarten teacher's class in a Regina Catholic elementary school was waiting for the new Pope to make his appearance in the balcony when one of the kids asked: "What happens if he sees his shadow when he comes out." A bit of a giggle I thought Garden Report readers would enjoy. And enough about gotch. I usually read The Garden Report before Sunday brunch.”

• Marcus Fernando knows only too well, the experience of being a parent. “Regarding your comment of child achievements and proud parents. We are constantly coming up against those parents who make comments such as, "Oh, isn't Pascal reading yet? Our three year old is already able to recognise some words"; or "Oh, our child is already talking. I'm surprised yours isn't". It's a parental one-upmanship and a complete nonsense, of course. One of our friends (also with a young child) put it nicely into perspective. Having suffered the umpteenth "Oh, isn't your child talking yet?" comment, he patiently observed: "How many people do you meet in life who never quite got around to learning to talk?" Children have their own timetables...and quite right too!”

• Neil Slater is an optimist regarding our volume of snow that will be melting soon. “There's twice as much snow at SIAST as there was at this time of the year in 2011. Take heart, though, since there's less water in the ground. Fall 2010 was a wet one, and last fall wasn't, so the snow will have somewhere to soak in, which may help to minimize flooding.”

Vegetable growing is incresing in  popularity
 • Garden Tip: This is more of an observation than a tip. Many more gardeners are growing food crops now than they were ten years ago. There has been an increase in the awareness of where are food comes from and how it is grown. This is a good thing.

• Lock me up: When one of our sons was around eight years old, he asked his mother “who pays Dad, if he owns the company?” Good question. She told him that I make my money by buying plants wholesale, at a lower price and selling them retail, at a higher price and keeping the difference. He looked at his mother with eyes wide open and asked “is that legal?” So far, it has been.

#291 is still on trial and has not been released for sale
• Garden Tip: If you wish to grow roses, then your growing site must have at least a half day of full sun. The more sun, the better a rose will grow. There is this myth that roses are difficult to grow. Not true. I have planted many roses for people who are not gardeners and as long as they get fed once a month, watered when needed and lightly pruned two or three times year, they will grow just fine. If you can grow lilacs, you can grow roses. Rose #291, yet to be named as it is still in a trial, appears to be a good one. If it is named and released, you will be able to say “I read about it in The Garden Report first.”

• Garden Tip: If you have an elm tree growing on your property, now is the time to prune it if required. Remember that it is illegal to prune elm trees from April 1st until August 31st. This ban helps to reduce Dutch Elm Disease. There is no cure for DED. Once a tree has been infected, it must be removed and the wood disposed of legally. Elm wood cannot be used for a fireplace or a fire pit. That’s the law.

• Good show: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was on at The Globe and it was a great version of a classic. One of the problems of producing a classic show is that most people know how it is supposed to go, so your margin of error is quite small. Considering how small The Globe’s stage is, they did a lovely job of ensuring the actors were not bumping into each other. Don’t laugh. That is always a fear of every director.

On the road with a show at The Winnipeg Fringe Festival
 • Bizarre: In 2005, I was performing in Winnipeg at The Fringe Festival. I was on stage as the audience filed in as part of the pre show, warm up. I was in costume and more importantly, in character. A woman came onto the stage and asked me if I could speak quickly during the show as she had a tight schedule and didn’t want to miss another show, after mine, that was down the street. How many times have I written, I can’t make this stuff up.

• Be safe out there: Every week, one of our readers with a Hotmail or Yahoo account is being hacked. What happens is, I get an email from one of those accounts and there is a link attached that invites me to click. There is seldom a message attached and usually it doesn’t feel right. One of my friends had her account hacked and the first suspicion was that the email was signed with her first and last name. Normally, she only signs off using her first name. Do not open the link! Delete the email and phone the account holder to let them know what is happening. Do not email as often that email will go right back to the hacker.

• Bumper sticker: I have not seen this one for a long time: ‘If I am okay and you are okay, then why did you just lock your car door?’

• Tired snowmen: The lads and a few lassies, who clear snow for a living, are tired beyond reason this spring. March is usually the month they rest their bodies before the spring rush of landscape work. This winter, they have been going nonstop and still are. Our readers who are in the snow business have told me they have had very few days off and are still falling behind.

• Drunks are intuitive: This drunk called me last week. He got my number from a friend of a friend who said I knew something about not drinking. We talked. He refused my request to take him to the detox center. He told me point blank “you are an asshole”. I told him, as he didn’t know me, that was just a lucky guess on his part. He didn’t’ get the humour. “Most people need to know me for a few weeks before they reach that conclusion”.

Tulips from the greenhouse
• It’s spring indoors: Maureen took this photo of a bouquet of white, spring tulips we have in a vase, on our kitchen table, this week. We can’t wait, but we must, for our own tulip garden to begin blooming.

• So much better: It has been thirteen years since anyone was allowed to smoke in a restaurant or a public place. This is a good example where a law protected the many from the few. The law has even protected the few from themselves. Many smokers have quit because they were in their own words, “tired of being a social pariah.” I have compassion for people who share this addiction. I quit in ’89 and I wrote a letter to myself that I posted for two years on our fridge. The number one reason I wanted to quit was “I am tired of being a slave to my addiction.” Do you know the fear a smoker faces when they are booked on a no smoking flight of four hours or when they attend a three hour seminar and find out there are no smoking breaks? It is dreadful. I wanted out from that fear, that tyranny an addiction imposes.

• ‘Madmen’ returns: Sunday, April 7th is the return of the hit series and intense drama, ‘Madmen’. It is on Channel 43 of The Access Network. This episode will be a two hour, season opener. For those of you who love ‘Downton Abbey’, you might find this one enjoyable.

• Reality television stinks: I am getting so tired of reality television. Pawn shops, truck drivers, tow truck drivers, obnoxious children, obnoxious adults, people who hoard, people who smoke crystal meth, people who are addicted to tattoos, university kids who drink too much, men who kill alligators, obnoxious chefs and the list goes on and on. These shows are dominating the airwaves for one reason and that is they are cheap to produce compared to dramas. The race to the bottom continues. Stay tuned to watch my new reality show, ‘Naked Gardeners’. Anyone want to be on it? Anyone?

• Revenge is sweet: Our middle son was complaining to me that his cat misbehaves and does not listen. I could not resist the opportunity. “Now you know how your mother and I felt all these years”. He failed to see the humour.

'Morden Belle' rose-a real beauty
 • Garden Tip: On Thursday, March 28th at 7:30 p.m., over at The Neil Balkwill Center, Darcy Schenk will be speaking. Darcy has been a long time employee of The Wascana Center Authority and he knows his trees, which is the topic of his talk. The talk is hosted by The Regina Horticultural Society. The talk is free for members and a small charge for non members. A word to the wise: Arrive early as the seats fill up quickly.

• Home Show: The annual Home Show at The Exhibition Grounds is on this weekend. I took it in as I do most years and there was very little to do with gardening for the visitor. There were no greenhouse or garden center booths, just a few landscapers and one sod grower exhibiting. I have heard several complaints that DJ Paving has not had their incredible display set up for the past two years. Talking with Don over at DJ, he is no longer participating as he did not enjoy working with the producers of the show. It is the show’s loss as Don put on a great display of flowers, bricks and moving water.

• La Bodega: This local bistro on Albert Street is offering up a tasting menu supper for thirty-five bucks. I read the menu and it sounds as if it would be a wonderful, culinary adventure. Reservations are important.

• Victorian Tea: Maureen has worked as a volunteer for several years now at The Victorian Teas held at Government House. I have attended many times and the functions are a fun time. The tea is affordable because of the volunteers who donate their time to the event. Every tea, there is always someone who insists they don’t want tea, they want coffee, which is not served. What is it that some people don’t understand when they attend a function with the name ‘Victorian Tea’ as the title? The sign out front does not read ‘Tim Horton’s’. They don’t serve French fries, either.

Eating Chinese food in Vancouver
• Cross cultural borders: When the boys were young, we were in Vancouver, checking out Chinatown. I told the boys that we were going to be on a great adventure, exploring the shops and tasting the foods they offered. As we were about to enter a restaurant that is renowned for their pot stickers, a Chinese mom and dad were trying to calm down their five year old. He was screaming at the top of his lungs that he did not want pot stickers for lunch, “I want to go to McDonald’s! I want to go to McDonald’s!”

• Thanks for reading....Rod McDonald in six feet of snow...Regina

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