Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Garden Report #136

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the Dads! 

My three sons plus a new baby girl!
 • Writers write: Rather than fill this space with words that are uninspired, I will leave it empty, except for the explanation.

• Readers write: It has been awhile since we heard from Joanne Crofford. Here are her comments from #135. “Three cheers for the beautiful grandmother holding her grandchild. She looks terrific and a bit mushy, as grandmothers tend to do when holding their little loved ones. I think that Burger Baron has pretty good fish and chips. I always like them. Although I am someone who could likely eat the fish sauce with a spoon.”

• Joanne Brown (affectionately known as ‘Brownie’ in our Fine Arts’ school days) a wordsmith these days. “I was sure the proper word was ‘teethe’, but it wasn't in two of my reference books. Kudos to Jean Freeman for the confirmation. And, what a beautiful photograph of Maureen with Rayanna. I hope Rayanna inherits Maureen's glorious hair!”

• Ed Heidt is missing our lovely June summer, now that he resides in New Mexico. Ed has two comments regarding #135. “Well Rod, first of all, I must share with you that my friend John and I saw ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at the Toronto Fringe in 1999, for six bucks, when it was nothing but one of 200 Fringe shows! What a lucky show to take off as it did! Also, gossip: I have always liked this analogy that you might appreciate. The analogy describes what happens when a person gossips - or passes on gossip. It's like emptying a feather pillow out the window and trying to re-gather up all the feathers. That little analogy has stopped me from gossiping, many times.”

• Ken McCaw read #135 while on holidays, in Portugal. He sends this comment regarding Joe Pettick’s design of The SPC Building. “Something Joe Pettick told me about the building, that is another example of his quiet genius is, he made the building in the shape of Lambda: The symbol for power! You can only see that from above the building.”

Purple or Blue Onion-a fall planted bulb
• Garden Tip: I have been getting several inquiries regarding a blue/purple flowering plant this week. It has been a very good year for Purple Onion which is a fall planted bulb. It is an ornamental and quite a lovely accent plant for most gardens. I have included a photo of it from my own garden. This bulb will spread quite easily which is good news for all of our Scottish gardeners. If you plant five, you will often have fifteen in a few years time. One inquiry suspected that it might be a weed. Not true.

• Garden Tip: A ‘Young’s Weeping’ Birch was spotted by our reader Heather Lowe, growing near the South East Leisure Center. This one is in perfect health and has been well cared for. This tree is seldom found, growing in Regina. I might have sold five of them in the last thirty-six years, that’s all. This specimen, could have used a bit more room as it has dominated the yard.
A 'Young's Weeping' birch growing in Regina

• A true gardener: I have been waiting for over a year, to have my left knee replaced. My turn finally arrived, the hospital called and wanted to do the surgery in two weeks time. “What?” I said. “It’s gardening time! I can’t come now. Call me in the fall.” Yes. Against much sound advice, I have decided to limp for another few months rather than abandon my garden. If St. Peter comes a calling, the answer will be much the same. “Could you come back after I plant the fall bulbs?

• The Cottage: If you were to write one word to describe The Cottage, located on South Albert Street, it would be consistent. George, one of the original owners, still runs the kitchen and has done so since 1979. It doesn’t change much. It is not gourmet, new wave or cutting edge. It is your basic, Greek run, meat and potato joint, done with a bit of upscale pretension(our waitress wore a gold tie). You usually know what you are going to order, even before opening the menu. It has a loyal, regular clientele who attend faithfully, for their weekly night out. We were there Thursday night. Service was very good. We both had the liver and onions (stop your complaining, now) and it was perfect. The liver was sliced thin, not overcooked and served very hot from the kitchen. Even I don’t like cold liver. The fries are disappointing and always have been. They are straight out of a freezer bag, those thick cut ones that used be called ‘railroad fries’. Why this place can’t take a basic Craven grown spud, wash it and slice it and toss it in the fryer, is beyond me. Maureen had the baked potato with all of the four trimmings. She said it was very good. There were a few assorted veggies, almost an afterthought, on the plate. They were julienned and acceptable. Why I mention the shortage of veggies is, in our house, the veggies occupy the lion’s share of the plate. The meal was preceded by a house salad which was pretty much all lettuce, with two tomato slices, topped with feta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. It was tasty, albeit not too exciting. It is a good, basic place, to take your mom. There were several tables with just that. A mom and dad, two teenage children and grandma along. I fully realize, now that I am a grandfather, that I might have gone to school with that grandma. Would we go back? Yes. Two entrees, no appies, one shared dessert, no drinks, tax and tip was $55.
Purple Onion mixed in with a bit of Little Leaf lilac and
Snow on the Mountain

• Watch where you step: Maureen was at the fish store on 13th, picking up some Red Snapper for supper. She comes home and tells me that “this old guy comes up and starts talking to me about my necklace.” I had to ask: “How old was he?” She stopped to think and then it set in. He was a little older than us, but not by much. This aging thing is turning into a real land mine of political correctness. Who can you call an ‘old fart’? Who is the generation above us that we can rebel against? Now, when we play our Dylan and Neil Young music, it’s the kids telling us to turn it down. Somehow, yelling at your kids “you just don’t understand who I am and what I stand for” sounds more pathetic than it does rebellious. “Hey man…stop laughing…you are ruining my vibe.” I often wonder, when we get to the old folk’s home, will they let us toke up every afternoon with our herbal tea? You know…just to take the edge off of things.

• Pot luck, the legal kind: After we cleaned up, okay, truth in writing: After Maureen and her sister cleaned up from the pot luck last Saturday, we had two dishes left that need to be claimed by their owners. One is the traditional glass casserole dish, nothing fancy. The other is a handmade, cheese and fruit plate, earth tone in colour. Only aging hippies need apply for the latter dish. As a secondary note, we received lots of emails and comments about how much people enjoyed the community pot luck supper at our place. Pot lucks are always a better time than even a well catered affair (and cheaper for the host). Add in the community singing and we had an old school, barn raising party, albeit everyone left at nine p.m. to be home in time to watch The National (insert sigh here).

'Bridal Wreath' spirea glorious in their blooms
• Spireas are blooming: Those smaller shrubs that are starting to look so beautiful this week, are often spireas. If the shrub is around three feet tall and has white flowers, chances are it is a ‘Three Lobed’ spirea. If they are closer to the five to six foot range, chances are they will be ‘Bridal Wreath’ spirea. Both cascade but more so the ‘Bridal Wreath’.

• Green and White: The Riders were back at it, with their pre season, exhibition game in Edmonton, Friday night. Pre season games are never all that exciting but this one had a few interesting twists and turns. That is to be expected with rookies fighting for a playing spot. Last season, I made a decision to watch each and every CFL game, unless circumstances dictated otherwise. My synopsis is that I enjoyed the season, the quality of the league play and I plan on doing it again. I don’t usually include much in the way of football in this blog, but readers must keep in mind that I was raised along Dewdney Avenue, in the shadow of Taylor Field. Even on dialysis, my blood has a green tint to it.

• Garden Tip: Not to be a nag, but if you have yet to remove your elm tree bands or to fertilize your lawn and your plants, now is a wonderful time to do so. Everyone, collectively breathe out a sigh and say “yes, mother!”

• Tit for tat: When my mother was eighty-five, I stopped into her condo for a quick visit. It was the afternoon and she had four women over for tea. I didn’t know the ladies. I said to mom “how are you, you old goat.” One of the ladies asked my mother, “is this your son”? Without missing a beat, mom replied “No. I have never seen him ever before.” Mothers have a way of bringing their kids back into line. And she didn’t even have to reach for her flyswatter to make me behave.

• Good barbecue: We barbecue year round, even when it is minus thirty. Dedicated, you might say. Saturday night, I tossed on two pork chops for supper. I like to get some dark grill marks on one side at least, and then turn down the heat for the flip side. I was looking for something a little different to renew my enthusiasm for the grill. I applied a thin layer of maple syrup to the top side, flipped it over to caramelize the sugars a bit and when that occurred, I brought them to my prep area. I sprinkled on a touch of salt and pepper, a nice shot of Saigon cinnamon and a drizzle of lemon juice. Wowser! I served them with barbecue baked beans and spinach...but a homemade apple sauce would have been the cat’s meow.
Mixed planters are starting to fill out

• Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in The Capital City-Regina!

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