Cathedral of San Fernando, San Antonio Texas

More than 100 years before my home state, Minnesota, was granted statehood, San Fernando was founded by 56 Canary Islanders in 1731.  The Patroness of Candelaria is one of several outstanding retablos found in the main chapel.  The original front of the church was replaced with a large French Gothic addition in 1868.  Notably, Pope John Paul II visited San Fernando Cathedral in 1987.  A marble coffin to the left of the east entrance is the sarcophagus of the Defenders of the Alamo.  The remains were found buried under the sanctuary in 1936.

San Fernando Cathedral with Boys April 25 2016Boys in SF Fountain April 25 2016Nave in San Fernando Catherdral April 25 2016Altar in San Fernando Cathedral April 25 2016Black Christ at San Fernando Catherdral April 25 2016 (1)Patroness of the Canary Islands April 25 2016Alamo Remains at San Fernando Catherdal April 25 2016


Hey, You Foxy Fox!

I have been fortunate to spot and photograph a red fox in our backyard this year.  Red foxes tend to be very shy and primarily nocturnal.  I saw this particular fox several times during mid-morning and early evening.

Red foxes are more common these days throughout the U.S.  Most are thought to be the descendants of red foxes imported from England for sport in the mid-eighteenth century and released on the east coast of the U.S.

A red fox can run almost 30 mph and can leap in a single bound more than a kangaroo, some 15 feet.  My fox was eagerly awaiting a very nervous squirrel to come down from our deck.  Too bad for our fox, the squirrel did get away!


Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota: Tremendous Service to Wildlife

WRC Brochure Front Feb 10 2016 (2)WRC Brochure Back Feb 10 2016 (2)Volunteer WRC 2 Feb 10 2016 (2)Volunteer WRC 1 Feb 10 2016 (2)I can’t say enough about the tremendous work the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) is doing to care for sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds and animals.  It is one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation clinics in the U.S., treating more than 8,600 animals each year.

For the first time, I attended the WRC Open House on Feb. 7, 2016.   I picked out a stuffed animal (robin) to go through a mock exam.  My robin had a fractured wing and he was taped before going to radiology.  Along the way, volunteers and veterinary students explained how and why certain procedures are performed and what type of cage my robin would be in during rehabilitation.  Everything was so interesting!  I didn’t know birds have nucleated red blood cells!


A Fun Day at the New England Aquarium

I was pleasantly surprised by the large collection of penguins at the New England Aquarium.  I spent quite a bit of time watching the African, rockhoppers, and little blue penguins in the various pools along with a number of people in the pools cleaning the displays.  I would guess this is a constant battle.  The giant ocean tank also had a nice display of sharks, sea turtles, barracudas, and moray eels along with divers who were again cleaning the display.  I would highly recommending a day at this aquarium!

Protecting Shrub Roses for a Minnesota Winter

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

Keeping Cannas in Minnesota

Be prepared for a lot of work if you want to have a bed of cannas in Minnesota!  I keep going each year because these tropical plants produce tall stalks of foliage with magnificent cardinal red flowers which are a favorite of hummingbirds.  Between June 1 and June 15, I plant the bulbs in the soil with a few inches of dirt or mulch covering the bulbs.  Light soit with peat, for example, is best because black dirt alone can make the bulbs simply too heavy to remove in the fall.  After the first frost, I cut the stalks back to about 3 inches above the soil.  I dig out the bulbs in a whole clump with most of the soil removed and place them in plastic bins containing vermiculite or wood chips in my basement.  The large clumps of bulbs grow the tallest and first the next year.  I found separating the bulbs leave me with bulbs that produce short plants with smaller flowers during the short Minnesota growing season!

Canna Aug 11 2015 Cannas 2 Aug 11 2015 Canna Bulbs 1 Cannas in Bins 2 Cannas in Bins Stacked 3