Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Garden Report #128

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Rob V.Z.'s favourite hardy rose-'Winnipeg Parks'
• Writers write: Bullying has been in the news again and rightly so. Specifically, at the high school level. Sadly, there has been another suicide. There has always been bullying in schools. When we were kids, those who possessed athletic skills, dominated the playgrounds at school. Those who did not excel at sports and were last chosen to play, were usually relegated to the bottom of the pecking order. Yet, when finished with school and life continued on, some gifted athletes struggled after their days of team sports were finished; while the science kids climbed the social order with superior jobs and higher incomes.

I remember, sadly, those who were socially inept were often mocked, made fun of and ostracized: Or the small boy in high school, well mannered, minding his own business, would have his books knocked or kicked from his grip by some member of a supposed higher pecking order. I have no idea who appointed those obnoxious, self serving cliques who defined themselves as the ‘in crowd’. I have no idea who decided what or who should be fashionable, acceptable and in a quasi leadership position. I have no idea why someone who could shoot a three pointer in basketball was supposedly superior to the best mathematician in the school. Who made that rule?

I do remember that there was one of these self appointed, elitist cliques when I attended Central Collegiate in downtown Regina. It was a group of supposed alpha males who hung around a water fountain, mocking those who passed by. I was in The Fine Arts Program and for some unknown reason, this group decided the students in our program were either ‘sluts’ or ‘fruitcakes’. Nice choice. One afternoon, tired of their comments, I approached them and asked if any one of them cared to go outside with me and ‘dance’. They became unusually silent by my request. None spoke. I then informed the clique that the next time any of them said anything to our class, as we passed, that I would ‘dance’ with the speaker/tormentor, right there in the hall. Amazing, how a pack of usually opinionated guys had nothing to say when threatened with a beating from an alpha male, ‘fruitcake’ notwithstanding. Ghandi, I was not. As an aside, there is a difference between standing up for yourself and bullying and there was no other way to get this ignorant group to behave. Report them to the administration? Give me a break. Absolutely nothing would have been done about it. The gym teacher actually encouraged their behaviour.

I do know this much. Bullying in schools can be ended, if we have the collective will to do so. The schools must adopt a zero tolerance to the problem and just not offer lip service to that policy. The students must band together to agree to end it and parents must instruct their kids on how words can hurt. It is not an easy issue to resolve, but it can be stopped, if we agree to do our part.

• Readers write:

• Chris Pasterfield is back in town after a long absence to Hawaii and Victoria. Chris enjoyed the friendship of our neighbour, Alex Young, who has died. “Sad to hear about Alex as he just addressed our service club, three months ago on prostate concerns. He was a nice guy.”

The City is setting up flood protection to save our houses

• Mike Liske has joined the ongoing discussion praising women’s hockey. “I, too, have found myself more interested in women's hockey over the past couple of years. Much cleaner hockey. Also if you get the chance, European hockey can be fun to watch. The speed of the game and skill level makes it very exciting. North American hockey really needs to take note and maybe get back to its roots.”

• Georgia Hearn also writes up a lovely compliment. “Fabulous issue. You make spring closer and you make me smile. Thank you.”

• Gwen Barschel is a gardener who just can’t wait to get outside. “My southwest facing front window is full of seedlings, including four pots of canna roots [or is it tubers?] I purchased San Marzano tomatoes last year at Dorn’s and I, too, enjoy the local greenhouses. You can always find something unusual, and the plants are well cared for. The Marzanos grew well, but I found the tomatoes smaller than the other Romas I had. I planted datura seeds on March 24th and I have a eighteen, healthy seedlings. My husband teases me. He thinks I am behaving as if I am going to get into my garden, soon. I replied, “Three feet of dirt right here in the living room will do if necessary!” Enjoy The Garden Report, as usual. I noticed you’ve been getting it out earlier in the evening the past few weeks!” Rod’s note: If I am going out on a Saturday night, say to The Symphony, I have to send it out early. Here is the situation. The readers in England and Europe are six to eight hours ahead of us in Regina and they get ‘owly’ if The Garden Report arrives late, by their time clocks. I have to have it out by midnight, at the latest. When I come home from my big night out, I am either tired or else my dialysis machine is calling me.

• Sarah Willis gardens in southern Ontario. She writes about a plant that I featured last week. “I think the photo of Delosperma 'Fire Spinner' should come with a warning or disclaimer, or something that provides scale. 'Fire Spinner' was new last year, and having seen photos of it, I made sure to look for it at my husband's garden centre, as I had great plans for this day-glow flower. The flowers really are those amazing neon colours - but, where I was picturing gerbera-size, they are less than English-daisy size, about 1 cm in diameter (about 3/8" if you're not bilingual). I guess I should have read the fine print.”

• Roberta Nichol has an opinion regarding thank you cards. “Regarding Thank You cards, I couldn't agree with you more. There is nothing like receiving that little treasure in your mailbox. Writing in one and mailing it out takes only minutes and you feel good, the recipient feels good...... I love doing that, to this very day. I admit, I don't do it as regularly as I used to, but I do have a box of cards in the house that are perfect for those occasions. Just a sweet little gesture, like a hug. I, too, am old school on this one.”

• Colleen Mahoney writes “Thanks for the reminder (in #127), Rod - I was at Canadian Time buying potting soil for my calla lily!”
Pussy willows setting bud on April 19th-despite the snow
• Garden Tip: With the incredible amount of snow cover this spring, many plants have been bent out of shape. Not to worry. They will recover their form. Do you remember how we had the same concern in the spring of 2011? Yet, everything that was bent out of shape made its way back to near normal conditions. Now and again, there will be a shrub or tree that requires a bit of pruning or shaping.

• Last week’s symphony: Wow! A massed choir of three hundred voices, give or take. I tried counting, but I kept getting the heads blurred together. The audience was almost to capacity, what with the families out to support the choir members. Friday night, we shared the intimacy of a gig at Sawchyn’s Guitars with forty people and the next night, a world class concert hall with an audience of two thousand, listening to a classic being performed. Regina is offering more and more opportunities for all of us and now, The Junos!

• Fifth Wall/Fourth Wall: Reader Ed Heidt argues that my reference to “breaking the fifth wall” when an audience speaks to the actors on stage should actually be the fourth wall. In my calculations, the fourth wall is the ceiling and the fifth is the one that separates the audience from the stage. Okay, okay. So Ed is right.

• Coyotes in disguise: Many years ago, I was at a function at The Hotel Saskatchewan. I left around midnight, walking south along Scarth Street. There was a brick building and a house, close together. There was a group of four people, waiting to mug someone or to steal a woman’s purse. They stepped ever so briefly out of the darkness into the shadows and I could just make them out. I stopped, turned towards them and asked “do you want something?” They said nothing and stepped back into the darkness. They were waiting for an easier target. One of the first things I learned about punks is that they prefer an easier target. They don’t want to go after someone who will give them a run for their money. I also realize that as I age, I become more and more, a potential target. I will have to choose where I walk with greater care. I often think of these people as coyotes, hanging around for the easy kill. I have no sympathy for purse snatchers before the courts because I know how they choose their prey.

• Bright, sun shiny days: There is still, lots of snow on the ground and we are long overdue for a typical spring. That is the down side. On the upside, I certainly am enjoying the sun being up before six a.m. and lots of light after supper. Celebrate these longer, sunny days.
'Queen Bee' petunia

• Garden Tip: To pinch or not to pinch, that is the question. I am a pincher. Relax. Your bottom is safe in my presence. I pinch my tomato plants. I like to pinch back the leader so the plant develops more strength, laterally. I don’t want a really tall plant. I want a really strong one. I also pinch back some lateral buds to increase the strength of the stock. I also pinch back other plants, especially geraniums. I have written here before, that visitors often comment that my geranium pots are first rate. There is no such thing as a ‘green thumb’. To turn your geraniums into super stars in the garden, just do the following three things on regular basis: a) provide lots of sun, b) water and fertilize regularly, 3) pinch the blooms back regularly. There are those gardeners who cannot bear to pinch. They believe in protecting all blooms and buds. Those gardeners have tall, skinny geraniums that personally, I would be embarrassed to show.

• New book: Reader Sherrie Tutt is also a writer. She has a new book out called ‘Promenade’. The book is a mystery, set in a small town in Saskatchewan, next door to a First Nation.

A full bench at Cherry Lane Greenhouse
• A Canadian icon: We are fortunate to have Canadian icons, those people who shine through the arts and politics. Our icons are so different than the American icons. We have these people, who are not polished by p.r. firms and are not smooth, but they are real, so very real. They are Canadians, at their core. People such as Tommy Douglas, Joey Smallwood, Charlotte Whitten, Peter Gzwoski, ‘Stompin’ Tom and Rita MacNeil. Rita passed away this week, at the all too young age of sixty-eight. She rose to national prominence when she performed at Expo ’86 in Vancouver. When you listened to Rita sing, you heard a piece of Canadiana on the stage. With her, Cape Breton Island always shone through and through, the land of my father. When she sang with her choir, ‘The Men of the Deep’, you were moved, often to tears. These were songs about people who had tough lives and yet they carried on. She was a woman, not with a conventional beauty, but a beauty nonetheless, that was appreciated by Canadians. She was so real and so much a part of who we are. Through recordings and videos, we get to keep her. ‘A Rita MacNeil Christmas Special’ will be broadcast for years to come and many of us will watch it every year, smiling at the woman we came to love, the woman we called Rita.

• Upcoming theater: Jodi Sadowsky, our local producer of The Regina Fringe, has her own show coming up. Running from May 8th until the 12th, Jodi is in ‘Kafka’s Monkey’. The show is being produced by Golden Apple and the venue will be The Artesian on 13th and Angus. Support your local artists and take in Jodi’s show. Many of you will remember her from her last solo, ‘See Bob Run’. She always provides a good night of theater.

My cousin Ricky and I-his 60th
• Not this dude: I was lying on a gurney at The Pasqua Hospital this week, waiting for a procedure. The nurse in charge asked if I had any body piercings that were not visible. I started to laugh. She asked “what’s so funny?” I explained to her that my private parts are without adornment, I have no tattoos and I don’t dye my hair. “I am too old school for any of that stuff, but thanks for asking.”
• Boys night out: Sixteen of the male readers of The Garden Report got together on Friday night. We took in ‘The Battle of the Prairies’ which included a supper and ringside seats for the Olympic style boxing. We had more than our quota of fun and friendship before the evening was half over. So, sixteen men. Did we talk about women? No way. We have grown beyond that. What did we discuss? Dessert. Yep, what’s looking good on the dessert buffet was our Number One topic. Now, when we say “that little sweetie is tempting me,” we are referencing the Saskatoon cobber. Did you really expect something else from us?
  • Clan Kerr rallies: A week ago Saturday, us Kerr began to assemble in the village of Lebret to celebrate Cousin Ricky's 60th birthday.  My extended family is large, as our grandparents had a dozen kids (my mother was Number Eight) and they in turn, each had a bunch more.  I cannot walk down the street without running into a cousin or two. Worldwide, there are now over a million of us Kerr within the Clan, so let that be warning to the Campbells and the MacKenzies!
    The war council of Clan Kerr and a few cronies!

• Thanks for reading….Rod McDonald in Regina

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