Peter Barr Smells Wonderful

Are you looking for a reliable source for really Prairie–hardy (Zone 2) low–maintenance day lilies, Asiatic lilies, Siberian iris, companion perennials and evergreen rosettes of hen and chicks for spring planting? Parkland Perennials, Box 506 at Bruderheim, Alta., T0B 0S0 may well have what you’re seeking. Write for a print catalogue; request a copy by e-mail from Bob Yaremko at [email protected]or go online to www.parkland-perennials.com.

Perhaps your forté is peonies of all stripes and colours imaginable, including Japanese peonies and single and double fern leaf peonies! Parkland Perennials has a vast peony selection for fall shipment only.

Japanese–type peonies available include names such as Akashigata, Ama-No-Sode, Bo Peep, Bowl Of Beauty, Carrara, Dragon’s Nest, Glowing Candles, Japensha Ikua, Leto, Lotus Queen, Mr. George Hemerick, Nippon Beauty, Onahama, Tom Eckhardt and Torpilleur. Peony lovers interested in these should inquire soon.

Just imagine dozens and dozens of double, semi-double and single-petal named peonies in all sorts of colours. The result is quite an impressive selection…well over a hundred at least.

The wonderful thing about peonies is they grow so well in our climate and are a great investment with a lifetime of bloom and beyond. Peonies are the longest-lived of any herbaceous perennial and last for decades once established.

DAY LILIES (HEMEROCALLIS)

Parkland Perennials also has well over a hundred varieties of tough-as-nails day lilies. Established clumps form arching, strap-like leaves and can be divided periodically. Individual blooms only last a day or two but are produced daily and very generously once flowering begins. If anything, the biggest challenge will be to decide which ones to try. Here’s a trio sample that caught my eye.

With a name like Shades of Darkness, you can expect something unusually awesome and not be disappointed. Ruffled petals are a velvety, black-toned red with a strong, green throat on multiple branches.

As far as I know, Smith Brothers day lily is not named for the bearded brothers, nor for their cough drops. It’s probably the nearest to black of any day lily, but tinged with a green and gold throat. This is likely the darkest variety you’ll find in any day lily garden.

Do you remember when a lot of churchgoers wore white Sunday gloves? This one is named in their honour. Sunday Gloves day lily is heavily budded, with ruffled and fragrant, near perfect-white large flowers.

Very few pest or disease problems are ever encountered with day lilies and they perform well in both full sun and partial shade. Nor are day lilies fussy about where they call home and are quite content in pretty well any type of soil.

Day lilies grown as rooted perennials are not to be confused with Asiatic and other lilies planted as bulbs. In recent years, lilies in some areas have been subject to attack from the lily leaf beetle. This pest does not bother day lilies.

SIBERIAN IRIS (IRIS SIBIRICA)

They’re trouble free as far as pests are concerned. Parkland’s impressive list includes over two dozen iris varieties. Once established, an iris clump will bear a profusion of blooms for several weeks.

Some of their named selections include: Butter and Sugar, Caesar’s Brother, Polly Dodge, Raspberry Snow, River City Rocket, Shaker’s Prayer and Sparkling Rose. These are very cold resistant and long–lived. They adapt to pretty well any garden soil.

AN OLD CARIBBEAN TRADITION

It’s customary for some market gardeners to soak basil leaves in water the night before. Prior to markets opening, vendors sprinkle basil water all around their fresh produce stands and on everything else in their line of goods and wares. It is said to attract buyers and bring good fortune to the merchants. This is neither superstition nor a tried–and–proven remedy to increase sales. Most vendors simply don’t open for business until the ritual is performed.

Incidentally, basil and tomatoes support each other when grown in close proximity. Basil helps tomatoes overcome both insects and disease. It’s best to grow basil parallel to tomatoes, rather than among them. Lesser known is that lemony and cinnamon–scented basils also ward off insects in the garden and repel mosquitoes and flies. Perhaps that explains the old Caribbean tradition.

BUTTER IS BUTTER…

…unless you opt to convert it into what some homemakers and economists refer to as better butter. You be the judge.

Soften 454 grams (a pound) of butter at room temperature until it spreads as easy as mayonnaise or sour cream. Stir in a half-cup of good–quality, cold pressed oil such as canola, sunflower or hemp seed oil. Those who’ve tried virgin olive oil say it tastes too strong.

Once well blended, use it as a spread on toast or sandwiches. Good for the heart and assists maintaining normal cholesterol, too. When used for sautéing onions or baking, avoid heating above 180C/350F, otherwise some valuable benefits of cold–pressed oil can be lost.

Better butter can be frozen if desired or kept in the fridge. I think you’ll find it quite acceptable in taste, especially with nutty–tasting oil of hemp seed. The oilseeds I mentioned are all Canadian grown, so you are helping our local producers and dairy farmers, no matter how you cut it.

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL GARDENER?

A reporter asked a successful gardener, “What is the secret of your success?” “Two words,” the gardener replied. “And, sir, what are they?” “Right decisions!” “And how do you make right decisions?” “One word.” “And, sir, what is that?” “Experience.” “And how do you get experience?” “Two words.” “And sir, what are they?” “Wrong decisions.”

SHAVING POEM

In a couple recent columns, you may have noticed that I sported a long, bushy beard holding an apple pie in one picture and then a trimmed beard while gathering entries for my Singing Gardener draws. My two different facial contrasts brought the following to mind, with a question to the men.

Do you shave every day or maybe twice or three times a week? Wife raised cane when he raised stubble! Guess what smoothed away the trouble? Shaving cream, I once used often, My face was smooth, as baby’s bottom.

HOLD NO GRUDGES

Carrying a grudge is like being stung continually by a single bee. We may not die, but the sting of the grudge is always there. We can pull out the stinger, do some hula hoops and let it go. Let’s work toward making every home a place where doors are not slammed, where each yard is a sanctuary for birds and bees in the linden trees, and where gardens are a personal retreat from the busy world.

This is Ted Meseyton, the Singing Gardener & Grow-it Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. What we grow is not as important as what we become as a gardener. Join me again next time along the Grainews garden path that leads to Ted Bits and Things Green and Growing. I have a website link at http://www.seedpotatoes.ca/singinggardener.htmand my e-mail address is: [email protected]

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