Monday, May 19, 2014

The Garden Report #143
Monday, May 19th, 2014

My spring garden last year-definitely not this spring!
• Writers write: The festival season is upon us with The Cathedral Village Arts Festival kick off today. A truly great, community based event. Then in early June, we have Mosaic, the festival to honour the countries that provided the people who populated our province. I try to take in four or five of the pavilions but I always end the night at The Scottish gig, over on Broadway Avenue. I get to hang out with ‘my people’. It’s also a chance to harass the other clans and applaud the pipe and drum bands. You have to check out the bouncer in the kilt with biceps thicker than my thighs. Remind me not to take him on lest I embarrass the poor lad. The Fringe Festival is in its tenth year and runs from July 9th to the 13th this year. Jodi is doing a bang up job running the festival and regular readers know it is my favourite week of the year. It’s kind of my Christmas. August is always a highlight month with The Folk Festival in Victoria Park. Old hippies, new hippies, non hippies, hip hippies, far out if you dig it, man. My first Folk Festival was 1969 and I still sing along with the tunes in the park. “Susanne takes you down, to her place by the river…” To me, the festivals are what the summers in Regina are all about. I hope to see you there.

• Readers write: Emails and letters from the readers are now out of date, what with my last missive being released September 22nd. Sorry about that. The good news is complaints are way down with my absence.

Downy mildew is destroying impatiens beds
• Impatiens planters be wary: I have been planting impatiens in my beds, in a big way, since 1973 and never lost a crop. That statement was true until last August when my impatiens, which were normally so thick you could not find the soil beneath them, were finished. Downy mildew attacked them though it did not attack every garden. It is probably not worth the risk to plant the traditional impatiens from the Walleriana family as they are the susceptible ones. This year, I am planting the ‘Divine’ series and New Guineas, which are not subject to devastation from this disease. 

• Garden Tip:  It is time to fertilize your lawns. There are many choices for fertilizers and the one I recommend is a little difficult to find. It has an NPK of 17 19 0 with 14% sulphur added into the mix. I purchase mine from CPS on McDonald Street and I apply five pounds per thousand square feet, three times a season. It is best to water this fertilize after application as it needs the water to dissolve the granules and begin the fertilization process. If you don’t water, it can burn the blades.
This is a well fertilized and cared for lawn

Big flavour: I love big flavour and I had heard from several sources that The Caraway Grill, tucked away on Broad Street by the subway, offers intense flavour. My nephew, Daniel Jackson, took me there for a very, belated birthday lunch (my birthday is in September). The Caraway Grill not only serves food with big flavour, but it also served one of the best meals I have had in years. To make things even better, Daniel paid for my lunch. He is my one relative who picks up the check when we are out and for that, I celebrate my sister for having the good fortune to birth him.

• Great performances: Both The Regina Symphony Orchestra’s last performance of the season and The Globe’s last show, were outstanding. The RSO had a Mahler Symphony on its docket and that piece alone, knocked my ‘Sunday go to meeting’ socks off. On the theater front, ‘Man of La Mancha’ was fantastic. I love that show. The blurred lines between what is real and what is not, within the mind of the writer, always intrigues me. The performance was first rate.

Always plant the tall plants at the back, never in the center
Garden Tip: When you plant your containers and you have chosen a center piece plant, such as a dracaena, never plant it dead center within the container. Off set it, balancing it with lower plants and edging material. It will look more natural.

• I really want to be nice: I really do, but sometimes restaurants just won’t let me be the man I aspire to be. It was a Friday at the end of March. I had had a small breakfast, no lunch and no treats. A long about way of saying I craved a large calorie meal. We headed over to The Mercury Café on 13th, a local bistro. I had a craving for a good burger, real fries and a chocolate shake. We sat down. The first thing that grabbed me was I had a feeling that I was in a pub, not a café or bistro. Several patrons were lined up at the bar, downing their drinks. I thought “its Friday night and a few of the regulars are letting off steam.” I found out from a friend, who lives in the neighbourhood, that the pub atmosphere is now a regular thing, not limited to a Friday night. I ordered my chocolate shake but was denied. Why? “Were out of chocolate ice cream.” I was sitting at a window booth, looking at the Safeway across the street. “Shall I pop over there and get you some?” The waitress laughed. I wasn’t joking. I ordered my burger and fries. The burger was first rate, met my expectations. It was what I wanted. There is ketchup on the table but if you want mustard or relish for your burger, you have to ask. It is not offered. The fries are advertised as being hand cut and double fried. Yep, they were hand cut, no doubt there, and if they were double fried, I was fooled. They were undercooked as in raw in the middle. I let them sit, didn’t say anything to the waitress, wondering if she might ask why I didn’t eat them. Not a word. She just took the plate, fries and all, and dumped them in the garbage. I had been to The Mercury one other time and my fries were first rate, very crisp, the way I love them. I so very much want to say wonderful things about local independent businesses but I can’t, not when they fall this short. Perhaps on another night, all three of my components will be perfect, but not that night and that’s the one I am writing about.

It's not you, it's Mother Nature: The season is late, no questions about that statement. It is as if we are in the last week of April, not the third week of May. Weather happens. Rest assured we will have summer. I did a quick inspection in my garden and out of my 1200 tulips, I have a dozen purple ones in bloom. The rest are coming along.

A butterfly flaps its wings: There is a regular reader and a friend of mine, who would be embarrassed if I mentioned his name. He has changed a young man’s life. About twenty years ago, our reader became aware of a young boy who had a less than opportune home life. He stepped into the boy’s life and invited the lad to a hockey game. I was there, along for the ride, for that first night. The boy’s home life deteriorated to the point where our reader took the boy into his home, raising him as his son. The boy grew into a man, worked hard, built a career, and took on a new challenges. He studied hard and applied to medical school. Last week, he was accepted. I wonder, had our reader not stepped up to the proverbial plate when it was required, what would have become of that young boy, twenty years ago? One man makes a big difference and it all started with taking a kid to a hockey game.

Cherry Lane has lots of plants
#Where to buy plants: There are five greenhouses, all independents, that I can recommend to our readers. They include Sherwood tucked behind CTV on Highway One East; Cherry Lane just off of Highway One West, on the east side of Grand Coulee; U and K which is north of Indian Head, along the highway to the lake; Dorn’s which is south of town along Highway Number Six and a new one called Cedar Creek which is also south of town on Number Six, across the road from the old Cinema Six Drive In. I have been working part time at Cedar Creek (I am not there a lot) and they are growing their own perennials, forty-one varieties, including lilies, peonies, daylilies and bleeding hearts. They have the basics of petunias, geraniums, pansies and veggies along with some very decent hanging baskets. I am giving them a bit of a plug here because it is their first year open and they don’t have an established clientele yet. They need one. God knows I remember my first year or two, trying to build that regular clientele, wondering if I was ever going to break even let alone show a profit. It is scary, opening your own greenhouse, that I know from experience. I didn’t read it in a book.

'Emily Carr' rose is a prolific bloomer

• Garden Tip: Many of the hardy roses suffered winter injury this year. Do not panic. Just cut your roses to the point below the winter injury. If the winter injury is complete, cut the bush to the ground and they should pop back up. This happened three years ago and I had to cut many roses to the ground. By the end of June, there were roses blooming all over the place, ones that had initially appeared finished. Plants are resilient and they live in spite of us, not because of us. 

• Garden tip: No pruning of any type of elm tree until September 1st. This is not my rule, it is a Provincial Ban.

"Who me?  The lamp was already broken."

• Grampa's Report:  Rayanna gets down from Edmonton about four times a year to visit her four grandparents, here in Regina. Sometimes she brings her mom and dad along for the ride. I got to look after her for three hours, by myself! Now, for some readers, they are going “whoopty doo” but for me, I have never had her by myself before. We danced to Holly Cole, we ate cheerios, no one pooped themselves, and we watched Mickey Mouse on a DVD. She wouldn’t have a nap, even though she wore me out and I needed a one. We had a wonderful afternoon together. I was her knight in shining armour with her asking me to pick her up, that is until her mom came home. Then I resumed my regular role as ‘chopped liver’. The one thing that does peak her interest in me is my harmonica. Yeah, yeah, I know, ‘Alvin and The Chipmunks’. She loves it when I play and she tries with all of her might, but no sound comes out, yet.

• A truly great magazine: There is one garden magazine that I can recommend for readers and that one is ‘The Gardener’. It is, hands down, the best gardening magazine published and it is produced in Saskatoon. Excellent articles and the photos are so wonderful.
Grampa and Rayanna drumming-we are getting ready for
The Catheddral Village Arts Festival
• Signing off:  The Garden Report is back, this week, but there is no guarantee of regularity. The issue is one of stamina. It takes around ten hours a week to produce this, send it out, respond to thirty emails and so on. Some days I have it and other days, you are going to have to wait for me to catch up to you. Thanks for your patience and your support. It has been a long eight months since you last heard from me. Rest assured, that is not my choice.

Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald on a cloudy, Victoria Day in Regina

No comments:

Post a Comment