Thursday, December 3, 2015

Overwintering Shrub Roses in Minnesota

Although our Flower Carpet Ground Cover Roses from Monrovia should overwinter well, I still cover them in the fall.  After cutting the roses back to about 6 to 8 inches, I heap a  mound of dry oak leaves on them, holding the leaves in place with some sections of chicken wire and a few pavers or small logs.  Oak leaves are by far the best because they do not rot and they are easily raked way in the spring.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Really? Tropical Cannas in Minnesota?

Yes, you can have cannas in Minnesota, but it entails a lot of work!  I keep planting canna bulbs each year because of the magnificent cardinal red blossoms on top of  5 to 6 foot-tall stalks.  These flowers attact hummingbirds late into the summer. 

Between June 1 and June 15 of each year, I plant the bulbs in the ground, covered with 2 or so inches of soil.  Light soil is best, because pure black dirt can be too heavy when digging up the bulbs in the fall.

After the first frost, I cut back the canna stalks to about 3 inches above the soil.  I dig out the bulbs in a large clump, with most of the soil removed, and place them in plastic bins containing vermiculite or wood chips in my basement.  These large clumps produce the tallest and most flowers compared to bulbs that have been separated.

Until next year!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Angkor Wat: Arrive Early in the Morning, Enter Via the Exit

To me, the magnificence of Angkor Wat could well surpass the architectural and sculptural genius of many of the great cathedrals of Europe.  The immense size of the temple complex and the huge number of intricately carved bas-reliefs makes Angkor Wat truly magical.  The best way to visit Angkor Wat is to arrive very early in the morning and start at the exit.  This will give you time to view the bas-reliefs in the southern and western galleries before the onslaught of tourists arrive through the main entrance.  This same approach works well at many of the other temples in Angkor.  Our private tour guide had it right!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cheese Curds and Pronto Pups

No, I didn't eat cheese curds, but I did have two Ponto Pups at the Minnesota State Fair.  Each year, we enjoy many of the same attractions and food on our usual route around the State Fair.  The crowds were huge on Sunday and it was a bit hot, but we had a great time.  We were tasked with checking out Mom's winnings in the baking division at Creative Activities.  This year she won a blue ribbon for ice box cookies and several other ribbons for pies and coffee cake.  People-watching was especially entertaining this year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

When Wrens Attack!

Look out for dive-bombing wrens if you get to close to the wren house in our yard!  It is amazing how such small birds can be so aggressive in defending their space.  They will take on much larger birds such as woodpeckers.  I even saw the wren drive a squirrel away several times, sending it running across the street into the neighbor's yard. 

We had one successful brood and now, another pair of wrens has a nest.  Hopefully, we will hear the babies chattering soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Progression of Peonies

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.  Each year when they begin to emerge from the ground, I know it is warm enough to uncover my roses.  Some of my peonies date back decades to my grandmother's garden.  We lovingly transplanted them each time we moved to a new house.  This spring there were very few ants crawling around on the buds.  When the peonies bloomed, they were bug-free and ready to bring inside for a dramatic bouquet.



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Wonderful Walking Tour of Boston

I took my first trip to Boston recently.  I was pleasantly surpised to find most of the historical sites I wanted to see were within a relatively easy walking distance from the Waterfront in the North End.  I followed most of the Freedom Trail over two days, ending up both days at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  After a full day of walking, I took a cab back to my hotel in the North End.  I would highly recommend exploring the Massachusetts State House.  Both the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers were open when I was there.  I kept thinking about how many of the great leaders of this country have walked these very same halls. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lu Ann Sidney Explores Mantorville Minnesota

For those who would like to take a day trip to southern Minnesota, I would highly recommend heading to Mantorville.  I recently spent an enjoyable Sunday afternoon at the Mantorville Theatre Company production of "Love, Sex, and the IRS" at the historic Mantorville Opera House.  Following the play, we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, the Hubbell House, located a block away.  Try the steak!  You won't be disappointed with either the quality or the price!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lu Ann Sidney Finds Kauai's Junglefowl

There are an astonishing number of chickens (junglefowl) roaming around on the island of Kauai.  For first time visitors, this can be somewhat of a shock.  Ever since Hurricane Iniki let loose the chickens in September 1992, they have seemingly increased in numbers.  They can be found along the highway, in shopping center parking lots, at tourist attractions, and on hotel grounds.  I found the best ones for photgraphing at the Kokee Lodge up the Waimea Canyon road. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kauai's Garden Preserves

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of plants and birds we encountered at both the Limahuli and McBryde Gardens on Kauai.  The most interesting of the plants was the alula.  These plants look like small cabbages on top of a small palm tree trunk.  Once thought to be extinct in the wild, botanists were able to save seeds by climbing down the cliffs on the Na Pali Coast.  Successful propagation has led to alulas now being available at Lowes and Home Depot!

Both gardens had alulas.  We happened to snap a photo of a very vocal shama thrush at the McBryde Garden.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lu Ann Sidney Explores Chicago North of Michigan Avenue

Chicago is one of my favorite cities.  Since I have visited Chicago so many times, each new visit means I need to find new things to do. 

I had never visited Lincoln Park or the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Zoo.  What a great diversion from Michigan Avenue!  I stayed at the PUBLIC Chicago and found it to be an easy walk north to Lincoln Park.  The zoo is surprisingly nice, housing a wide variety of animals.  All of the animals were fun to view, expect the naked mole-rats!

The Lincoln Park Conservatory was a fun side trip and a warm place to stop.  The Fernery has a large variety of plants and a cool fish pond.