Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Garden Report #137

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 

Little Leaf Lilac-top grafted-in our neighbour's yard

• Writers write: Another week and nothing profound enters or exits my mind except to write, all of us can and should benefit from a spiritual advisor. We need another person to balance our thoughts, to keep us on the right path.

• Readers write:
• Roberta Nichol enjoys a back handed compliment, as much as any of us, I think. “Speaking of age, this is what happened to me in Juneau. My buddy and I wandered into a jewelry shop, where the pressure to buy was quite insane. It was starting to slightly annoy me, but the young man prattled on. As the three of us were conversing, he looked at me and said, "You know, I bet in your day, you were really pretty!" What? Idiot! Dorothy, my friend, assured me later that it was meant to be a compliment.” Rod’s note: My response, in similar situations is something like “In your day, I bet you were capable of being polite. So what happened?”

• Marcus Fernando has decided, even though many comics are unemployed, he should steal their work. Here is his submission regarding an alternative response from my mother, in #136. “Of course, another good reply your mother might have given at the dinner table might have been this:

SON: (entering boisterously) Hello, you old goat!

GUEST: Is that your son?

MOTHER: No, it's my kid.”

• Ingrid Thiessen is concerned, as am I, with the record amount of elm seeds that are blowing across our city. “Elm trees are taking over the prairies. Soon there will be no grass left. I looked up at the branches and the seed storm isn't finished yet.”

• Sheila Tooke is one of our internet readers. This is her first response and she writes a lovely compliment. “Hi Rod, reading your Garden Report has become a Sunday morning ritual for me. A really enjoyable read - lots of great information about gardening, food, Regina events, living a life and of course your great sense of humour! A really nice mix.”
A rose growing in London, England

Great photos:  Top grafted, Little Leaf Lilacs are in bloom across the city and looking spectacular. Maureen took the photo in a neighbour’s yard. The hostas are looking wonderful in our yard as no doubt, they are in yours. The container garden is a collection of four pots that I ‘bang’ up every spring. It graces my front entrance. I have learned to use some pretty decent sized pots out front. Martha Poon, daughter of Sandra Rayson, took the photo in London, England in a garden called ‘Regent’s Park’. She reports it is incredible. No, I don’t know which variety the rose is, but thanks for asking. The peony and the Lady’s Mantle were both photographed by Maureen, in our back garden.

• A different epiphany: There are very few right or wrong answers, but we do discover that there are answers that are less painful than others.

• Good point: I had a friend who announced one Christmas that we consume way too much sugar during the holidays. I agreed with him. Then he opened a jar of maraschino cherries and chugged the entire contents. Well, at least he had a sense of what was the right thing to say.

• Tandoori Kebab: It was Fathers’ Day and I got to choose where the family would go for supper. As regular readers know, I am a huge fan of big flavour so we headed off to the non descript Tandoori Kebab, recessed into the wall of the twelve block of Albert Street. This place is rarely busy, having never caught on except with the Pakistani community. What I enjoy the most is that they use more spice than most Indian restaurants. The flavours are intense, a bit hot but nothing that readers can’t handle. If you want it hotter, they will accommodate you, gladly. A basket of hot from the tandoori oven, naan bread arrives with your meal and a it is perfect for sopping up the curries. Service was good. Supper, three masalla teas, tax and tip was sixty-three bucks for three of us.

Hostas growing at the base of an elm tree in our front garden
• Ah, yes, married life: Monday night, I took a piece of Lebanese pita, spread some hummus into the center, then added in thin, sliced onions, sheep milk feta and finished it with a drizzle of hot sauce. It was ‘The Bomb’ of snacks. Maureen came along, got a whiff of my nosh and informed me “you can sleep by yourself tonight.” Sigh. Food or the love of a beautiful woman. Why does God always present me with so many choices?

• Lunch time: We love to have lunch on the patio when the sun is shining. I made some really great ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches the other day and here is what made them so tasty. First, you have to start with a good foundation. The bread must be a chewy one, like they make at Orange Boot. Second, slice the ham thin, lots of it, poach it in a fry pan with a bit of water, when warm, top with the cheese, cover the pan until it melts, serve it on the good bread with lettuce for sure and perhaps tomatoes with lemon pepper. What I do not care for at most cafes is that they serve their ham and cheese cold and they skimp on the ham. At our house, a ham and cheese is always served with warm ham and cheese and we don’t skimp. Hot banana peppers are always a welcomed option on mine as is some mustard. For the saline conscious, Maureen has been buying low salt hams and they are just fine. You don’t have to wash the lunch down with two glasses of water. Ask me if I enjoy my food? Go ahead, I dare you.

• Landscapers chat: Thursday morning. It’s raining. I can’t go to work or get out into my own garden. Drew Millard from Mr. Caretaker calls. He can’t go to work either. He knows I am stuck at home drinking my coffee, reading the paper. We chat about life, lawns and love. So, if you ever wondered what we in the green trades do when it rains, now you know.

• Follow the rules: When I was six years old and in Grade One, The City installed traffic lights at the corner of Dewdney and Cameron Street. They are still there, today. The Principal of Albert School held an assembly. He told the entire school that “everyone must cross Dewdney at the Cameron Street lights”. I put up my hand. I said “but I live over on Rae Street and I don’t need to cross at the lights”. He said “everyone must cross at the lights on Cameron Street.” So, being a good, little boy, I crossed at Cameron Street, using the lights, walked down Dewdney Avenue for three blocks and re crossed Dewdney Avenue, for the second time, to get to our house on the other side of the street. This went on for a week or two, until one day my mother noticed I was dashing across Dewdney, which was a very busy street. She asked what I was doing on the wrong side of the street? I told her and she overruled The Principal. This is a story of little children following the rules and of adults, not listening to what a six year old is trying to tell them.
Four containers close to my front steps

• Time flies: This week or perhaps it will be next week, is the 44th anniversary of my graduating from Grade 12. I received my diploma from The Fine Arts Program at Central along with twenty-two other artistic students. Someone in the class said “we should have a reunion in ten years time.” Being seventeen years of age, ten years was way too long. Everyone agreed, it should be in five years. It was settled, five years it was. So this is, as I wrote above, our 44th year and we still, have not had that five year reunion. The good news is that I do write this blog and five or six of the twenty-three read it.

• Let’s hear it for the peonies: I love peonies. Who doesn’t? Mine started blooming, Friday morning. Others in the city are blooming or close to it. If not this week past, then the week ahead. Did you know that peonies make for a fine bouquet in your kitchen? Yeppers, they look just fine in a vase on your table. Best time to split your peonies, if they are getting overgrown, is around the middle of September. When you replant a peony, ensure that you do not plant it too deep or that will slow down your blooms for a few years.
Pink peony blooming this week in my back garden

• The rain is great for the crops: Thursday’s rain was such a gentle rain until four p.m. at my place. Then thunder did its thing, lots of it, the skies opened and the gentility of the rain became a torrent. It poured for twenty, perhaps thirty minutes. It was so thick, you could have sliced it into pieces and sold it to the Middle East. I checked a few different gardens around town and there are small amounts of damage and yet, plants being resilient, most will recover inside a week or two. Lots of drain channels were created as water always finds its way to the lowest spots. Hopefully, the lowest spot was not your basement. At least we were not hit with the deluge that encompassed Calgary and other parts of southern Alberta. They are indeed devastated while we here were only inconvenienced.

• The good old days: The Stanley Cup Final is on this week. Two of the original six, Boston and Chicago are battling for supremacy. No problem with me, except for the date. It is June 23rd, the summer solstice has come and gone. Hockey used to be a wrap in March or early April. Then baseball took its place and then football and then it was Hockey Night in Canada, again. There was a seasonal order to everything. Now, it’s big pot of mush. No separation. Why have a five month hockey season when they can make us pay for an eight month one?

• The best of summer: I enjoy the sun coming up this time of year around four a.m. because if it wakes you up, you can roll over and go back to sleep for another two hours. When the sun wakes me up in December, I know that I am really, really late for the start of my day.

Sandra's tulips have bloomed for a very long season

• Tulip award: Sandra Rayson wants an award. Her tulips are still blooming, especially her ‘Blue Amiable’. It has just been that type of year with a late start and not too much heat. Other years, given a week of plus thirty weather, tulips are finished by the end of May. So, do we give Sandra an Order of Canada, a Nobel Prize, an honorary Super Bowl Ring? How about we invent a prize? Perhaps we can get those frugal Dutchmen (the Dutch make us Scots look almost generous) to sponsor us. Then again, maybe not. You do realize that we have lots of Dutch who read this, right? Oh well, I can beg forgiveness next week.

• Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in sunny and rainy Regina (pick one)

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