(Jennifer Kok photo) Brian and Mike making a ‘Who’ tree.

Gardening: Four cups of Christmas cheer

Wishing you all the kindness, consideration, friendship that I have experienced this holiday season.

I thought I would give you a gift of four short stories before Christmas. I hope you enjoy them.

• Brian’s Weekly Visits – Brian is a good friend of mine. He visits me weekly at the nursery where I work, usually on Thursdays. The first thing he always does when we meet is to shake my hand and ask me how I’m doing. He doesn’t tolerate a vague, ‘I’m okay,’ because he really wants to know if everything is alright in my life. It matters to him. It is only after I have detailed the good things I have encountered in past seven days that we move onto his interests, which usually involve sampling any ripening berries or fruits (Brian has a keen palate and is quick to review these), seeing if ‘Dave’ the hummingbird is about or perhaps making a Christmas craft – such as a ‘Who’ tree we recently put together.

I guess the thing that I like the most about Brian is that he is always looking out for me, and in a world where people often get lost in the grind of daily life, it’s a comforting feeling.

The Further Adventures of Dave – I should start by mentioning that Dave is actually a female Anna’s hummingbird, judging by her grey and metallic green colouring. But somehow it would seem odd to call her anything else.

That said, she always begins the day by flying in and sipping on her feeder in the perennial house, then chirping when she spots me, as if to say ‘good morning.’

Her favourite perch is on the Beauty Berry bushes, which I suspect has more to do with the blooms on the adjacent Camellia ‘Yuletide’ and Mahonia ‘Charity’ – both of which provide some rare winter nectar.

On very cold or wet days, Dave will spend most of her time in the perennial house, with an occasional foray into the heated store to feed on the Christmas cactus. If things are quiet, she will perch on the vines just a few feet from my work station and listen to CBC radio with me, making for good company.

Artificial Christmas Tree Horror Stories – It’s my theory that nothing fuels the sales of live Christmas trees better than their artificial counterparts.

And over my 20 years of selling them, I have amassed quite a collection of horror stories from customers who love to regale me with their experiences, from the rodents who enjoy nesting in them while in storage, to trees that never regain a natural look once compacted in boxes, and those that fade to a sickly green in the slightest bit of sunlight.

But I still think that the best of these is the golem of an artificial tree that I grew up with, one my dad cobbled together annually. What I remember the most is the silly grin on his face when he managed, yet again, to revive his Frankenstein of an artificial tree with inordinate amounts of duct tape and picture wire.

Kolbassa Kindness – A casual conversation with some fellow ex-Winnipeggers about what we miss most from our wintry city recently turned into an extraordinary act of kindness.

After talking about the rye bread and garlic sausage you find at the north end of town, Jimmy and Eva actually brought me back a ring of the latter to enjoy this Christmas.

So that’s my four cups of Christmas cheer and I want to wish you all the kindness, consideration and friendship that I have experienced this holiday season.

Mike Lascelle is a local

nursery manager and

gardening author

(hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

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