Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Garden Report #147
Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stunning white peonies at Audrey's farm
       Writers write: Nothing. Not a thing.  There should be something but there is nothing.  Are you sitting down?  I have nothing to say, well, at least not here.  Maybe next week.
        Photos:  Heather Lowe took the picture of the Japanese Lilac at the old Regina Inn.  It looks great!  Maureen Hawley took the photo of the Morden ‘Sunrise’ rose, which appeared to be dead, all the way through the month of May.  The rose is in our garden.  I can’t remember who took the shot of the sedum.  It blooms later in the year, end of August and September and it is wonderful.  The stunning white peony was shot by Audrey Drummond.  Her peonies are incredible this year.  Our tulips are now officially finished for the season and have been replaced with annuals.  We replant every October (sometimes in September) after the frost has wiped out the annuals.  The next shot is of some calliper trees that Michel Touchette is growing in Portage La Prairie.  And last but not least, Penny from Calgary loves to share her  house with animals looking for a friend.  I get that.

·      Readers write:  Keith Carpenter is my tulip bulb rep, though his Dutch heritage is in dispute.  Keith writes to us from the Vancouver area. “I have been enjoying your pictures of the tulips in the last few Garden Reports.  It sure took them a lot longer, this spring, to get going with the cool weather that you were having.  With those delays it seems like you have to look at what you want for next spring, right after this spring’s blooming is finished.”

·      There were many emails regarding The Vietnam War.  Here are a few of the responses.  From Jim Tomkins. “Your recent reminiscences in The Garden Report about the Vietnam War brought back a lot of memories; they immediately brought to mind a Pulitzer-Prize-winning book about that conflict and what happened behind the scenes: ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan. I read it about twenty years ago and it made a profound impression on me.  Joanne Terry’s email reads “Hi Rod – Thoroughly enjoyed your Garden Report this morning.  Your piece on ‘I have no dog in this fight’ really hit home to me.  You are so right that the Vietnam War was a senseless farce and killed too many young men and women and children.  You are a great writer and so interesting that it makes me want to read.” Rod’s note:  I did write a play about a Canadian soldier,  from Saskatchewan,  who served in Vietnam.  It was titled ‘Paradise’.  I wrote it in 2007.  It got rave reviews from CBC and my audiences, but The Winnipeg Free Press and The Winnipeg Sun flunked it. I really do prefer the compliments.  Robert Barbour writes: “Thank you for the new newsletter. I really enjoy it. Your editorial on the Vietnam war was right on and can translate to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts especially in light of the events of this week. I am at a loss as to how our illustrious leaders think they can resolve a conflict that  is thousands of years old. What a waste of our soldiers lives and I can’t imagine what their families feel about it.”  Rob Gee resides in Leicester, England and his view is this: “I was wanting to compliment your thoughts about Vietnam, which I thought were absolutely on the nail. I think I might adopt the 'I have no dog in this fight' philosophy. Interestingly, one thing I've noticed about the North American dialogue on the subject, is that commentators almost always put the number of fatalities in the tens of thousands. It's actually closer to three million, but no one seems to count the Vietnamese.” 
Siberian Iris are stunning planted in the sun
·      Neil Slater continues our common struggle.  That struggle being waged by us so called ‘oatmeal savages’ throughout Canada.  Neil writes: “But bagpipes are forever, as is ‘Scotland the Brave’, alas. Make music, not war!”
·      Sherrie Tutt is filled with nice things to say.  I wrote last week that I am all in favour of people who write nice things about me.  “Thanks so much Rod. You are the gold standard in gardening information. Happy summer.”
·    I have not seen Morag Armbruster for several years, wherever she is hiding, but Morag is still a regular reader.  She writes: “Just a thanks for The Garden Report, I really enjoy reading it.  And also I shared your thought for the day on our white board at the drop in centre here at APSS and it seems  like everyone who reads it chuckles.  (We did give you credit for it.) ”
·      Our local ‘matriarch of the arts’ and my spell checker, Jean Freeman, writes “I love your mind, your passions, your plant-smarts and genial curmudgeonliess (you should see what my spell-checker has tried to turn THAT word into!!)  Thank you for all of it!”
A Japanese Tree Lilac planted by the old Regina Inn
Lyn Goldman references me as an inspiration.  Other references have been left out as this is a family magazine.  “How beautiful the photos are, Rod!  They tell me that I must get back out in the garden, despite the plague of mosquitoes.  I’ll try your suggestion of Trounce.  And the fertilizer.  You inspire me.”
      Kathleen Livingstone was the first to respond to #145 and this is what she wrote: “Thanks for another great issue of The Garden Report.  It seems somehow fitting that it should come out with the sunshine!”
        Boy oh boy:  Some of my best observations (I write, tongue firmly placed inside cheek) are of people in their normal habitat.  You know. People shopping at Safeway, eating supper at Siam, registering at the hospital.  These people give me such unlimited fodder for my writing.  One of my friends saw me as she exited a lingerie shop at The Golden Mile.  I cracked “so what do you have in your shopping bag”.  She hissed at me “so help me God, if this shows up in one of your columns or blogs, I will kill you!”  Nice talk for a well educated woman.  That is why I am not mentioning it.
·        Listening to other conversations: I am standing in line at The Italian Star, home of Carlo Giambattista, who is truly Romanian, masquerading as Italian, ‘cause the girls love Italians and not so much, the Romanians.  I have my sheep’s’ milk feta cheese and bucatinni in hand and I am number three from the front of the till.  A woman, around twenty years of age, is standing behind me.  She is bored.  She retrieves her phone, actually it was in her hand all of the time, calls someone and subjects me to the following:  “Yeah.  I am standing in line at The Italian Star.  God…I am so bored.  Really?  How much shame does she want to bring on herself?  Yeah…the grandparents are out of control doing their thing.  I know, I know, what can you do?”  I looked over my shoulder.  She had two chocolate bars in her other hand.  The home of some great Italian sandwiches, and she had not one, but two, chocolate bars for her lunch.  I have struggled my entire life with weight issues (and so does she) and all I can say in my defence is that I do not eat chocolate bars for lunch.  I cook bucattini and serve it with fresh lemon and feta cheese and perhaps, lots of  garlic.  The word ‘perhaps’ was not really needed.

      There was a part of me, the non Canadian part, that wanted to pull my phone out of my pocket, call anyone and begin conversing in a loud, conversational voice, “Yeah.  I am standing in line at The Italian Star.  I am so bored.  There’s like this chick who is yapping on her phone behind me, talking about stuff we really don’t care about and get this, she is eating chocolate bars for lunch.  As if!”  Of course, I didn’t.  As you do also, I endured, but one day I am going to snap and shake off my Canadian facade.   
·        It takes a drunk to bring order to chaos:  We take the bus or walk in Vancouver.  Very few people drive  because of the insane traffic and the parking fees.  It is much easier to get around on foot and bus.  It was just before supper and the bus was packed.  We all stood, hanging onto the top rail.  A drunk man gets on the  bus.  He might have been homeless.  He was not well dressed.  He spots an uptight dude in his thirties.  The man he spots is a lawyer or an accountant, probably from down town, as he is dressed impeccably. He hates the bus.  He has laid his brief case across the seat next to him  He radiates “leave me alone”.  And we do.  The drunk has no such social constraint.  He picks up the man’s brief case, hands it to him and sits down in the now empty seat.  The dude is vibing that his space has been invaded.  The drunk says to him in a voice that all of us can hear “you can’t claim two seats, it is not right!”  Yep.  All of us agreed with the drunk but we let this ass get away with lying his briefcase across the seat so no one else would sit beside him.  Three stars for the drunk.
Reader Penny P. shares her home with those who
need one
·        The Fringe is worth every cent:  This year is the 10th time there has been a Regina Fringe Festival.  I am perfectly aware that we are the smallest of the festivals in Canada.  Edmonton and Winnipeg have done an incredible job of bringing down the crowds.  My hat is off to them.  But, even though we are small, rest assured, we still attract the ‘A listers’.  Those shows that sell out at other festivals are easily accessible here and they are worth checking out.  For ten bucks a ticket, a price that I think is too low for the performers, it is a bargain for audiences.   The Festival is on this year from July 9th to the 13th and for those without a calendar, that is this Wednesday to Sunday. 
·        The Secret Garden Tour:  This year, the tour  runs this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  For the price of the passport, you have an opportunity to see some of the finest gardens in Regina.  It is worth the time and your support goes to our only pro dance company, New Dance Horizons.  Congrats to Robin Poitras for her efforts.
       Garden Tip:  With all the rain we have had here in Saskatchewan, plants are starting to show stress.  Usually, rain is good for our gardens and our crops but as with everything, too much of a good thing…and you already know how the rest of that goes.  Plant stress is showing up in a few formats.  If a plant is drooping, from too much water, there is not too much a gardener can do unless you are willing to lift it out and relocate it to dryer ground.  What I have been noticing around town are many plants suffering from iron chlorosis.  When leaves turn a premature yellow and the veins of the leaf become readily apparent, chances are there is iron chlorosis present.  The best way to treat that problem is with iron chelate, sold sometimes as ‘Tru Green’. Plants that appear to be affected include roses, geraniums and peonies.  Mountain Ash, apple trees, cherries and plums are also very susceptible to iron chlorosis so keep an eye on those species.  
       Garden Tip:  Several people have told me that trollius cannot be grown in Regina.  “Just not hardy enough.”  I planted a dozen trollius in Sandra Rayson’s garden three years ago.  Each June, they grow like ‘The Dickens’ and bloom profusely.  Sandra and I chuckle when I retell the same advice, again and again. “These are not really hardy for Regina.”
'Autumn Joy' sedum blooms late August
or early September
The old monk and the young monk:  In 1995, my mentor and I were touring The Lieutenant Governor’s Residence in Victoria. There was an elderly gardener who was planting.  My mentor wrote the book on perennials.  He asked the gentleman “so old-timer, what are planting.”  The gardener stopped his work and gave the two of us a ten minute lecture on the attributes of sedum, which he was planting.  He took ten minutes to tell us why and when you should plant sedum.  We left that part of the garden.  I burst at the seams.  I asked, no, I demanded from my mentor, an answer. “Why did you not tell him who you are?  You are known as a perennial expert, across North America, including sedum?”  My mentor said to me “all I did was let him tell me a story.  Why?  What did you hear?”  We kept walking along, one of us a little more chastened.

·      Garden Tip:  There is a ‘horticultural fact’ that is a myth, not reality.  The myth says that none of us should do any pruning or trimming of our trees, shrubs, perennials or annuals during July. It is too late according to the myth.  The reality is that I prune, nip and tuck plants all of the time, in July.  It is not too late and if it is supposed to hurt the plant, I have not seen any evidence of that being the case.  Of course, I could be wrong with this being only my thirty-eighth year.  I know, I know, I am getting a little snarly as I age.  Do keep in mind that it is illegal and unethical to prune your elm trees until September 1st.  This law is to prevent Dutch Elm Disease and has nothing to do with the benefits of pruning.
Michel and his calliper trees
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

·      Perhaps it’s an age thing:  I did volunteer work at Access for seven years.  A woman, who worked at Access, was twenty-eight.  One day she told me that she did not understand why anyone watched my television show on gardening. “It’s a dumb show”.  I asked her how old she was and she told me.  All  I could mutter was “uh huh”.  Two years later, the same woman spots me and asks me a dozen questions on gardening.  I got right up in her grill:  “Aren't you the same person who thought my show was a waste of time?  So why the change of attitude on your part?”  Her answer: “We bought a house.”   I had a friend who owned a nursery in Saskatoon.  His name was Pat and his favourite saying was “it depends whose ox is being gored.”  In other words, the woman who now asked questions was no longer going dancing and staying out all night.  She was a home-owner and she was wanting to make her place look nice.  She was now ready for me, or at least ready for my information.  I, also, do not go out dancing, late at night.  I am in bed early, up early, and out in the garden, early.  Not bragging.  Just saying I am making much better choices these days. 
'Negrita' and 'Maureen' tulips planted together
Now, they are finished for the season
Parking lot shaming:  There is a site on Facebook that posts photos of bad parking.  I get it.  On a very bright note, public shaming, something I am not opposed to, does work.  Since the page came out a month ago and was on television, I have been extra careful to ensure I park properly.  I certainly don’t want a photo, of my vehicle in an asinine parking position, posted.  Of course, the decent people out there will pull up their socks and ensure they park responsibly but the idiots do carry on.  Saturday night, at The Dairy Queen, a driver did not want to drive to the back parking lot so what did she do?  She parked in the driving lane, right by the front door, and went in.  There is, deep inside of me, a tow truck driver, waiting to emerge.  As an aside, Maureen goes off her nut, at the grocery stores, with people who use up four spaces to angle park and to protect their ‘special car’.  One of our readers writes that he likes to take a piece of chalk and draw an outline around the car with the words, ‘Reserved for Assholes’.  That made me laugh.
·      Mea culpa:  Last week, I identified my Mandevilla hanging basket, the one hanging by the back door, as a hibiscus in the attachments.  I know it is a Mandevilla and I don’t know why I labelled it as a hibiscus as we rarely grow hibiscus outdoors.  At least in Regina, we don’t grow them outdoors.  If you read this in Maui, don’t argue with me.  I know, I know what you grow outdoors there.
·      Thought for the day: I just keep forgetting what I already know.  Have you ever looked for your glasses only to find out you had them on?
This Morden 'Sunrise' appeared dead until
the end of May.  Now, it blooms!
·      Thanks for reading this week…Rod McDonald in sunny and humid Regina

1 comment:

  1. These are a lot of garden tips! I particularly like your pruning tip. The general rule is to prune, but leave something behind for the tree to recover. Pruning greatly helps trees as it "energizes" them. There are issues with pruning as winter approaches, so it's a good idea to ask an expert on when's the perfect time to prune before it gets cold. Thanks for the tips, and for your pics!

    Mike Gurung @ Bay Area Tree Specialists