Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Garden Report #127

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

'Ruffled Velvet' Sibirian Iris-great for the sun
• Writers write: For the second week in a row, I have nothing that I wish to include in this section, but there is no shortage of things to read.

• Readers write:

• Sherrie Tutt addresses the issue of limping football players. “As to the knees, as an old orthopedic nurse, I can tell you that football is hell on knees. Tackles force knees to bend in directions they were never meant to go. Show me a big guy, over the age of forty, who is limping and I'll give you even money he once played the game. Also, I loved two of your pictures, especially the planter filled with bright flowers was just what I needed to get through another snow day and the stepping stone about old gardeners ‘going to pot’ kept me laughing a good five minutes. My begonias are thriving, thanks to your good advice. Keep the bright things coming, if only in pictures.”

• Dave Calam brightens our day with a touch of humour. “Many thanks, Rod, for another fine edition. I don't know why this came to mind. Nothing to do with The Garden Report, but I think you and your readers will like it. It comes from my friend Phil Holcomb, a great coach and mentor. "If a man tells a woman he will do something, he will. There is no need for her to remind him about it every six months."”

• Jean Mackay wants to know if anyone has San Marzano tomato seeds. She writes “Rod, have you ever grown these great tomatoes? A quick search of the Internet did not show any in a seed catalogue? We just came back from a week in Sicily which included a day with a chef who cooked a great lunch, including pasta ‘Norma’. I have the recipes on line, if you wish I can email them to you. Today with this tedious weather, I planted some spinach seeds in a pot indoors, I get a bit garden crazy this time of the year. Oh well, temperature can change rapidly in the spring in Regina. Thanks again for The Garden Reports-love them!” Rod’s note: Sherwood Greenhouse grows them as a bedding plant and Stokes’s sells them as a seed.

• Larry Levsen over at Sherwood Greenhouses is always a good sport about sending us updates for new plants. Here is a new petunia. “ I've been busy moving snow. Attached is a new spreading/trailing petunia called Petunia ‘Rhythm and Blues’. It is a new, long life hybrid that shows a jazzy colour pattern, deep blue flowers, surrounded by a bright white scalloped rim.”
'Rhythm and Blues' Petunia

• Hockey has lost viewers, mainly due to the violence. Frank Flegel is a part of that group, but he still loves the game, just not the punching type. “I tuned out NHL and Junior hockey, years ago, for all the reasons mentioned by others in an earlier Garden Report. Cruising through the channels one boring evening, I happened across the game between Canada and Denmark in The Women’s’ International Championship and immediately became a fan. It was fast, end to end, skillful and, at times, hard hitting hockey the way the game should be played. No fighting, cheap shots or anything else and the refs. didn't have to separate the players at every whistle. The crimes that led to penalties seemed more accidental than deliberate. Of course, Canada dominated and the score ended 8-0 but it was a joy to watch.”

• Cheryl Ann Smith tosses out this compliment. “Beautiful! Really nice to put a face to your family. Rayanna is such a little cutie.”

• Roberta Nichol is affectionately known as ‘The Grandmother’ of The Regina Folk Festival. After all, she was there at the beginning. Roberta shares this: “As for the Regina Folk Festival: I'm happy that it has become such a howling success. It started from practically nothing. I know. I was there. It hobbled, limped and crawled up to what it is today. Those early members never gave up. I wonder if the current Guild administration know the names of these people? I have to say, I, too, am not all that impressed with the insane size of the crowds, and therefore, have not attended an evening show for about five years. If the organization is aiming for such attendance, I also suggest that more diligence is used regarding porta-potty maintenance. Last year, during the day, the situation was absolutely disgusting. I do enjoy the workshops very, very much, as there's always a place to sit and be comfortable.”

• Heather Lowe sent along the photo ‘Lots and lots of snow’. She tells us that they had to clear the snow to access the grain bins, as they had a delivery quota for their grain.
A snow drift and Heather and Brian's farm

• Garden Tip: If not already done so, it is time to pot up your calla and cannas lilies. As we have such a short growing season here in Regina, I always suggest a head start so that those two plants are garden ready by the end of May.

• Garden Tip: Again, the two products that I suggest gardeners use when getting ready for the spring are Pro Mix which is a quality potting soil and a starter fertilizer such as a 10 52 10.

• Give me a break: Every year, when I had the garden center, there was this woman, a self styled apostle of garden terminology correctness, who would make a point of reminding me that Pro Mix has no soil in it, therefore, I should not be calling it a potting soil. Fine. Pro Mix is technically a soil less mix, but it is used in the same manner as a traditional potting soil. Since the arrival of the soil less mixes, greenhouses have been able to increase the sizes of the hanging baskets grown. Back in the day, when a soil based mix was used, a twelve inch basket would have weighed too much to hang from a hook. Now, with Pro Mix and similar products available, gardeners are hanging sixteen inch baskets with no problems.

• Garden Tip: Writing of correct terminology, the evergreen trees that you see growing in Regina are not called ‘Christmas trees’. Most evergreens in Regina are from the spruce (Picea) family and a few are pines (Pinus). Pines tend to grow better in a sandy soil and quality specimens are found growing at Pilot Butte/White City. Regina has such a heavy clay soil that pines do grow here but they never are the specimens that are found elsewhere.

• True story: Over the years, I have delivered hundreds, if not more, gardening seminars. Now and again, there will be someone in attendance who decides that they know as much or more than I do. Fair enough. So, why do they attend the seminar if they already know everything? Beats me. One afternoon, I was holding a seminar in the greenhouse for about thirty people. Every time I said something, a woman seated in the front row, would add in her two cents worth. Exasperated by her unwanted comments, I attempted to embarrass her. I offered her the microphone saying “would you like to come up here and tell us everything you know?” Knock me down with a feather! She took the microphone, stepped up to the podium and preceded to speak for ten minutes. What did I do? I waited until she ran out of steam and then I took the mike back. There are some people you just can’t embarrass.

• True story #2: I was speaking at a seminar at The Regina Exhibition Grounds. It was a good sized audience of eighty or so. There was a gentleman seated in the audience, who every time I made a statement, would shake his head to disagree with me. It was really unnerving. I would say “marigolds grow in the sun” and he would shake his head. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I tried not to focus on him but it was difficult. He had drawn me into his negativity. I finished up the seminar and afterwards, there were half a dozen people hanging around, wanting to chat. At the back of the group was the disagreeing gentleman. I was fully expecting him to explain to me that I should be finding another line of work. Instead, he offered up “that was such a great seminar. So informative.” While he delivered those compliments, his head shook side to side. The man had a palsy. Nothing more.

• True story #3: When acting on stage, every now and again, an audience member will break the theatrical fifth wall and address the actors. As theater is live and without a safety net, the actors are stuck with what happens in the audience as well as the action on the stage. I have had audience members speak to me, as well as cell phones going off and other distractions. You don’t like it but you learn to adapt. One of the funniest audience/actor interactions came at our Regina Globe Theater, many years ago. They were doing ‘The Christmas Carol’ and ‘Scrooge’ was being his despicable self. A six year old boy spoke up, saying “you’re mean!” Everyone heard his comment. The actor, staying in character, responded “how dare you address Ebenezer Scrooge?” Funnier than all get out, cracking up the audience, all the while letting everyone know – no talking during the performance!

• Great similarities: It is interesting to note, that when an actor performs for either a children’s audience or a senior’s audience, there is always the same danger, that if you are too funny, your audience will wet themselves. Just saying.
'New Day' orange gazania

• Brown’s Social House: This is a chain restaurant. Think Earl’s or Joe’s Original. It is filled with loud music and people out for a good time. The atmosphere is best described as a party. The front, glass house section is the most quiet part of the restaurant, but it was still loud. The service was good. I asked the waitress “what is the best thing that you like to eat on the menu?” She said that the burgers were supreme. So did CJ Katz in her Leader Post story. I ordered the ‘OMG burger’. Two five ounce patties with bacon and cheddar cheese. The meat was first rate, it was well prepared and you get some top notch fries with the order. They offered me a choice of white or malt vinegar for my chips. That made me happy. The burger and fries were seventeen bucks. You can get a cheaper burger and fries at many places, but not a better one. You pay for the quality. Maureen had the ‘Cowgirl’s’ salad with chicken. It was tasty and a very interesting selection of ingredients. The only complaint was the feta cheese on the salad was skimpy, a mere dusting. A glass of house wine for the Mrs., the burger, the salad, tax and tip included was fifty bucks. Pricy, but we got something for it. The woman beside us was having the fish and chips. It looked good and the menu said it was halibut, my favourite fish for that meal. I asked “how is it” and she said it was excellent. Having agreed to engage my company manners while out in public, I did not ask the woman if I could taste from her plate and she did not offer. Damn!

• Souvlaki burgers: I know. I have told you about these before, but made at home, they are so much better than store bought and less salt. I had two pounds of fresh ground pork on Sunday, I added in two ounces of lemon juice, two teaspoons of basil, two teaspoons of oregano, one teaspoon of thyme, one teaspoon of garlic powder, one/half teaspoon of salt, one/half teaspoon of fresh ground, black pepper, one tablespoon of hot sauce, one/half of a medium onion, chopped and onto the barbecue they went, in four ounce patties. I cooked them on high to get a grill mark, then I flipped them, reduced the heat to low until cooked through and served them with a feta cheese/lemon juice/olive oil salad. It takes a Scotsman to teach the Greeks how to do it right. Sorry Nick, George and Gus. I just might have to leave town after that statement or else never get another pizza delivered.

• Free tickets: I still have a few tickets for The Battle of the Prairies, Olympic style boxing, this Friday, the 19th. Bouts begin at 8:00 p.m.

• Language debate: One of our readers raised the question of whether the word none should be followed by the verb were or was. I checked in with several of our wordsmiths and the argument can be made for both sides. Here is the unofficial ruling, from me. If the word none is being used in the context of not one, then the singular form of was is appropriate. Example: None was left (not one cookie was left). If the word none is being used in the context of not any, then the plural form of were is appropriate. Example: None were left (not any cookies were left). Now that I have done my part to ensure that the English language is as confusing as ever, I rest. Please don’t ask why there are no cookies left. Obviously, I ate them.

• English made clear: Here is an amusing take on our language from one of our resident word smiths, Marcus Fernando. You just know he is an expert because he speaks with a BBC accent. “I tend towards the ‘let's not debase the language’ school of thought, but I also have to accept that the literal use can evolve into a colloquial use. For instance, if I were to say "It's not what I'm used to", it is grammatically incorrect, ending as it does with a preposition. However, the grammatically correct alternative: "It's not that to which I am used", sounds ridiculous and has very little impact, other than making one out to be a pedantic git!”

• Best of times: Peter Sawchyn over at Sawchyn Guitars is not only a first rate guitar builder, he also likes to throw parties. Every now and again, Peter hosts a concert, in his shop. Often, the musicians are the folkies who founded The Regina Guild of Folk Music, many years ago. This weekend was the reunion of ‘Everyday Dirt’, a jug band specializing in blue grass and roots music. It was a great time. We were there Friday night. The place was packed and it was ever so reminiscent of the old, ‘Four D’ but without the thick haze of blue smoke. The band knocked themselves out, playing standards as well as their own compositions. I don’t think they have played together for thirty years or so, but you could not hear that separation in their music. I love the fact that we have been getting some great concerts and shows in funky venues such as Sawcyhn’s shop, The Artesian, The Artful Dodger and The Creative City Center. All new venues within the last year or two.
Roberta Nichol is  part of 'Everyday Dirt'

• Sadly: This week, we lost a long time neighbour with the passing of Alex Young. Alex and his wife Linda anchored the far, south corner of our block, for many years. When someone passes, you can think of many things to say about them and the finest compliment I can give to Alex was: He was always fun to be with, no matter where we were. He had this lovely, quiet sense of humour and a twinkle in his eyes.

• Thought for the day: Happiness is not a destination, rather, it is the journey.

• Let them eat cake: We have now tried three different cakes from Auntie Meme’s Cakes (Arlene Sauer). The lemon was my favourite and Maureen fell in love with the chocolate one that we shared last night. It has four layers. We have also had the maple walnut one as well. Her cakes are excellent and you can order them at 535-3098 (don’t forget the 306).

• Lost habit: Sending out thank you cards that were both detailed and expressive was a common occurrence at one time, but no longer. Today, it is a rare occurrence. I received two this week. One from Jodi over at The Fringe and the other from Lisa at
This is a pot of my geraniums, last October
The Humane Society. They were appreciated and their arrival made me wonder, why don’t all of us send out more of these little packets of joy and thanks? No phone call, no email can take the place of a thank you card. Call me old school on this one.

• Old School #2: Maureen wonders: Will hats make a comeback, what with the popularity of Don Draper in ‘Mad Men’? If they do become a fashion accessory again, I want to hear a bit more Sinatra. Somehow, hats and Sinatra go together.

Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in Regina

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