Monthly Archives: May 2014

A political career blooms

The Stikks Family is a Welland-content political cartoon appearing on the blog from time to time. Follow Pops, Mom, Dick and Jane and their adventures in Welland. Pops Stikks is on the municipal election campaign trail!

Garden Routes Home – A journal excerpt


CAPTION: Some of today’s chores as they await the gardener’s attention. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Garden Journal, Friday, May 30:

A great morning to catch up with garden chores!

The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining and chickadees nesting next door and other feathered friends are singing up a chorus! What a serenade !



There’s a peony to be planted in the back garden along the fence, and astilbe  – both my wife’s selections. The grass must be cut today and some weeding is definitely called for! After that, four hostas will be given prominent placings in the front yard between two beds of roses. Wave petunias, their scent drawing attention to their out-of-sight location, await transplanting into beds or window boxes.

I’ve given roses in a sideyard bed a quick once over and counted a couple dozen buds on various bushes including the climber, America, which has been giving us among the earliest showings of colour the past few years.


CAPTION: The climber America is showing buds.

The prolific climber, New Dawn, my classic light pink, was given a good pruning earlier this spring while across the way, sprawling Heaven’s Eye, a hybrid setigera, looks like it will be loaded with flowers sooner rather than later! It’s a one-time bloomer, but the hundreds of small, mauve beauties that seem to pop out of nowhere compensate for this downside. Watch for a pic or two in upcoming garden journal excerpts. That’s it until the next entry. . .


The City of Welland Rose went back on sale to the public this week after an absence of about four years.

The beautiful hybrid tea is being sold by the Welland Rose Festival committee – cheers to Allen Bunyan and the committee for bringing back the city’s official rose. Call the Rose Festival office, 905-732-7673 to check on availability.


Saturday, June 21: Welland Horticultural Society’s annual rose show. Full details in Garden Routes Home, June 6.

Monday, June 23: Evening Garden Walk, Four Gardens in Pelham. Meet at Fonthill Library at 6:30 p.m. for list of gardens. Free for members, non-members $10. Refreshments to follow.


‘Paeonia Bartzella’: You’ve seen peonies in white, pink mauve. Chances are you have not seen this peony.



CAPTION: This yellow peony was given a home in a backyard bed along the fence.

Bartzella comes out in breathtaking yellow. It can be the brightest star of any garden, sure to attract attention and even a few ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ Here is one good description, from a perennials website: “Itoh peonies are rare and unusual hybrids between garden peonies and tree peonies. There are several varieties, all highly sought after by collectors, yet easy to grow and very hardy. This selection forms a tall, upright bush of lush green leaves that stand up well into the autumn. The HUGE flowers are double to semi-double, with soft sulphur-yellow petals and a lemony fragrance. A highly regarded selection, outstanding performer.”

Be sure to watch for it here – in full colour – in a few weeks.


CAPTION: Window boxes await these wave petunias.


 “I plant daffodil bulbs about eight inches deep. As I mentioned before, I don’t use a ruler. As a married woman, I know perfectly well what six or eight inches looks like, so it’s easy to make a good estimate. This mental measurement makes planting time much more interesting than it might be otherwise.” – Casandra Danz, Mrs. Greenthumbs: How I Turned a Boring Yard into a Glorious Garden and How You Can, Too.

Next Garden Routes Home: Friday, June 6, first local garden profile (delayed one week due to weather), and weekly after that through mid-August.

Sunset today, Friday, May 30: 8:42 p.m.

Sunrise tomorrow, Saturday, May 31: 5:18 a.m.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

The long and short of it



CAPTION: This sign is popping up in social agency storefronts and front lawns of churches and homes in the Welland, Port Colborne and Pelham areas. The initiative is sponsored by the Social Planning Network of Ontario and seeks to make poverty issues a high priority for voters, politicians and parties in the Ontario election campaign. Bridges Community Health Centre, 177 King St., Port Colborne, is a local outlet for the signs and other information about the meaning and importance of a Poverty Free Ontario. Pictured here are signs outside St. David’s Anglican Church, Thorold Road and the Parish Community of St. Kevin, Niagara Street, both in Welland. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Welland rose is back on the market in the Rose City


CAPTION: The City of Welland rose is being sold again to local gardeners. The price is $25 per bush. (File photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

The City of Welland rose is back in the Rose City.

After an absence of about four years, the city’s official rose is available for sale to local rose growers and gardeners.

Allen Bunyan, a member of the Rose Festival committee, said 60 City of Welland rose bushes arrived Monday from Sheridan Nurseries in Georgetown.

Ten have already been snapped up through word of mouth, Bunyan said.

The bushes are being sold from the Rose Festival office, 30 East Main St. If any remain on the weekend, they will be available at the Welland market and at the Welland Home Show, both on Saturday. Check with the festival office, 905-732-7673 for up-to-date info on sales and availability.

Earlier this month, the City of Welland purchased 50 bushes and the Welland Recreational Canal Corp., 20, said Bunyan.

Having the rose available for sale to the public was Bunyan’s initiative. He said he wants the city rose to have a higher profile here in Canada’s Rose City.

It also dovetails with this year’s festival motto: Put the rose back in the Rose City and, building bridges. There is need to build “better relationships” with and between community and volunteer organizations in Welland, Bunyan said.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City)

It’s My Life, Sort Of – A collector’s cards


By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I have a collection of cards accumulated from over the years. They are looked at occasionally, some more than others.

Not baseball or hockey or World Cup soccer cards. Not action figure cards. But cards that are reminders of the people who have been part of our lives or people whose lives have intertwined with ours.

They are the cards one picks up at a funeral residence as a keepsake of the person who has died. I had occasion to look at one last week: It was dated May 21, 1973, the date of my maternal grandmother’s passing.

Most are kept in a little box. A couple are from more than 50 years ago, friends of the family, people whose names I can recall but not so much their faces.

My grandmother’s brought back memories.

She made the best apple and cheese strudels on the block, maybe even the whole neighbourhood. The best homemade boiled beef or chicken soup, served for Sunday lunch. Jars and jars of peaches, pears and cherries, kept in her “cold cellar” over winters, always enough to last to the following spring, and then some. She could replace a wayward button on a shirt or jacket in the blink of an eye, even with arthritic fingers.

Each of these cards has the innate power to do this. I look at one for a work colleague and recall times I crept out of his car in the newspaper parking lot, white-knuckled after his harrowing drive back to work from a cross-town restaurant; I find inspiration and courage in the card of well-known local social justice advocate; peace of heart and words to live by rather than sorrow, in that of teenage girl who died much too soon. These are but a few examples. These are one of the reasons we keep such cards close to hand and heart.

My cards have a place of honor in their collection box. I know they will never have dollar sign-value attached to them as do the better-known cards like those of pro athletes. But in terms of sentimental worth and riches they will always be priceless in this collector’s eyes.

(A former reporter and editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. It’s My Life, Sort Of appears Tuesdays on the blog but was delayed this week.)

Welland Snaps – Sign language


CAPTION: The sign language here tries to put a positive spin on the demolition at a Welland industrial site where over the years thousands of Welland blue-collar workers earned their bread and butter for themselves and their families. At its peak it was Page-Hersey. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler at large

Signs are everywhere these days. And sign language – well, it speaks for itself.

Or does it?


CAPTION: This signboard outside Cheers, a bar at the corner of East Main and Ross streets in Welland is well known for its witticisms. The language on this one highlights two of the bar’s best practices but also adds innuendo about the provincial election campaign now going on.

Sign language is a vocabulary of mixed messages. Some sign language is straightforward, but other messages can be mixed, vague, confusing or classic cases of double entendre.

I drove around Welland on the weekend checking out signs and the sign language they contain.

I stayed away from signs scarred with graffiti for the purposes of this essay on the basis that including them might be misconstrued as promoting graffiti art.

In retrospect, the experience unfolded as being more interesting as the day went on – which was a good sign in itself, I’d say.


CAPTION: This sign provides a cautionary warning but the sign language is also a double entendre. Have you seen a “flasher” stop in this area, Prince Charles Drive near the top of First Avenue, and do his or her thing?

Some signs go ignored by passersby, some get double takes and deservedly so. They are worth a second look.

This short story is meant to accompany this photo essay about signs and sign language, with some annotations provided where I deemed it necessary. That said, this is where I “sign off “.


CAPTION: This sign’s language is about signs.


CAPTION: The language here, on a storefront on King Street, can be seen as a mixed message.


CAPTION: There’s a lesson in local history in the language on this sign, at the Niagara College campus at the back of  the Simcoe building.


CAPTION: A  sign with a message that rocks.


CAPTION: This sign’s language speaks for itself. The message to drivers: be vigilant!


CAPTION: Finally, this sign defies explanation. There are several around town, this one was photographed on Northcote Drive near Edgar Street. What is the message?

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose CityWELLAND SNAPS  is a photo feature appearing Mondays on the blog.)



GARDEN ROUTES HOME: Lotsa time, lotsa hosta


By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

There’s nothing quite like a morning at a hosta farm.

And as it turned out, on Thursday, we had lotsa time for lotsa hosta.

A favourite place to go: Bruce Cumpson’s Olde Towne Gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


CAPTION: Bruce Cumpson is the perfect host for visitors to his hosta farm. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

Welland hosta gardener Ron Lemon brought me here a few years back. And we’ve been back, a few times each year, ever since that first excursion.

On Thursday, Lemon was there to shop. He wanted hostas and maybe other perennials to “fill spots” in his magnificent garden. I was there to gawk – the place is breathtaking, and to take the occasional photo or two.

Cumpson has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of varieties of hosts on his grounds. He knows just about each and every one by name.

What’s equally amazing is that when you come here, don’t expect to be given the bum’s rush by the chatty proprietor. He loves to talk, and talk he does. Chances are he will still be talking about hostas as your vehicle is pulling out of the parking space and heading for Lakeshore Road.

His knowledge is encyclopedic. That’s not exaggeration on my part.


CAPTION: More to see than hostas, these ferns, for example, are tantalizing eye candy. 

Each and every time you come here, you leave a little better off for the experience. Oh, your pockets might be lighter but you’re richer for the wealth of information he has shared.

Feel free to roam the grounds, check out the greenhouses and the gift shop. Make sure you walk to the back of the property – a stream runneth through it. Actually, it’s Six Mile Creek, and the view can be just stunning at different times of the year.


CAPTION: A section of Six Mile Creek is found at the back of the hosta farm.

One last word of advice: be sure to have time on your hands when you get here. You probably will not want to leave – even after you’ve picked out a hosta or two.


CAPTION: Still lotsa work to do on the hosta farm after the long winter.


CAPTION: A small part of Cumpson’s collection.


(A former reporter and editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. GARDEN ROUTES HOME appears on the blog Fridays)

Here's looking at you!

You never know who might be looking at you as you look at flowers in a backyard garden. This charming fellow has become a conversation piece in a garden in Welland, Ontario. How’s that saying go: the eyes have it! (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

Gotcha covered!

Pretty or what? Lamium makes for a stunning ground cover in local gardens, especially among trees or shrubs. Hard to walk by without giving it a second look. Don’t believe? Go ahead and try. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

It’s My Life, Sort Of – A Habs fan’s lament


CAPTION: My good luck charms will be kept close in Game 3. (Photo by Joe Barkovich) 

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at -large

Superstitious? Who, me?

Ok, so your team is down two games to none.

Ok, so they dropped the first two games on “home ice” as it is known.

Ok, so their star goalie, Carey Price, is out for the series with the New York Rangers, according to published reports.

Ok, so it could very well turn out to be out for the season, barring a dramatic turnaround.

Worried? What, me worry?

The team is in dire straits. That’s dire straits, as in the Big Apple. As in the casa of the so-called Broadway Blue Shirts.

How could this be? Down two games to none?

Not that I’m superstitious mind you, but I think it could be time to break out the good luck charms and keep them nearby.

Like my Habs t-shirt which stays on ‘til the series is over, fini, one way or the other.

Like my knitted Habs sweater, grey, trimmed in red, with the logo over your heart, which is where it should be.

Like my Habs boxer shorts. The krinkly-looking item (in the photo) is the shorts the way they look when unpacked from the object on top, the one that looks something like a puck. One thing about Habs boxer shorts: you never wear them. You just look at them, over and over every once in a while. A t-shirt or sweater are meant to be worn. But not the boxer shorts. Sacrilege!

Like my Habs thimble-size mug and my Habs book marker and my Habs 100 Years of Glory, four-disc collection of the team’s storied history.

Like my Habs replica Stanley Cup. I remember when it graced the top of the city desk at work from the start of hockey season to the game when the Habs were eliminated from playoff contention or playoff play.

Or my Habs 12 jumbo crayons set. (not pictured). The box says for 3+ but that’s a mistake. I know kids whose dads had them in Habs school from the time they were born!

Time to break out this good luck arsenal.

Time to have these good luck charms, and others, ready for Game 3.

I’ll be ready.

Monday night I went to bed and had trouble sleeping, images of stick-carrying Rangers Rangers Rangers Rangers floating across and through the bedroom in bright blue neon.

Then I heard the voice of Dan Girardi, the Welland kid who plays for the Rangers say: “Ha, ha, I’ll be back in the Rose City soon enough, hoisting the Stanley Cup, just wait and see!”

It turned out to be a nightmare, Girardi handing me a nicely wrapped sandwich before he skated down Broadway and out of sight.

The label said: “Montreal smoked meat”.

What? Me worried? Superstitious? Who me?.

Where’s the hot mustard?

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)