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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Alaska Botanical Garden Part Three

In this final installment about our visit to the ABG, we'll visit The Anchorage Heritage garden (Formerly "upper Perennial Garden") and part of the Junior Master Gardener Plot.

Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska is one hundred years old this year and to celebrate, a new garden has been planted in the ABG!
 
I grew up in Skagway, Alaska in the house that was previously the home of the Blanchards and their garden.  By the time I lived there, the gardens were long gone but someone had planted some great trees, mountain ash, a couple of the few maples hardy in Alaska, and  ornamental crab apples to name a few.  Also the gift of the Blanchards was some of the best soil in town.  Most of the valley soil is sand and river rock but there is a ribbon of deep rich soil that goes through town.  I'm sure that the Blanchards amended their soil well with manure and seaweed as I did when I gardened there.
 
Here's a picture of Blanchard's garden.  Notice that the picture was taken by Dedman.  I worked in Dedman's Photo Shop for 16 years as a clerk and in the darkroom.  It's possible that I exposed and developed  this contact print myself with the antique equipment that was, until just a few years ago, still in use there. I also have at least one copy of this card in a box somewhere but was too lazy to go find it.  Notice on the far right the nasturtiums climbing the side of the house!
Blanchard Garden Skagway Alaska
 
This was the view from the front yard looking back. Again, the gardens were gone but  Mt. Harding was still there!  When I grew up in this place in the 70's, this was seen as an ideal garden style and gardeners in town emulated it.
Blanchard Garden Skagway Alaska

Seeing the Anchorage Heritage garden brought back fond memories of gardens in my home town.

These common  but lovely mostly annual plants are perhaps a bit passé  with gardeners these days but there's something very charming about them.  Notice the lilacs still blooming in July in the background.

In Alaska, the summer days are long but the growing season is quite  a bit shorter than in the lower 48.  Why not get the most color out of the garden while you can?  This is the way folks gardened a hundred years ago (and still in the 70's in Skagway.)


O.K. admit it, you love nasturtiums.  When you were a kid, you'd take off the back of the flower and sip the nectar. (and you probably still do.)  And who didn't make snap dragons talk to you?  If you didn't, next time you see one, gently press the sides of the back of a floret together, the two parts of the flower will open, when you let go, it'll close.  One can talk with a snap dragon for long periods of time as they almost always agree with whatever you say.


 It will be interesting to visit the Heritage garden again sometime to see what they do next.

We didn't venture into the Junior Master Gardener Plot as there was something going on there and we didn't want to intrude.  Is this staircase and planter combination cool or what? 

I wonder what will be planted in the soil on either side?  What a joy to be able to see a garden in process!

Before we leave, one more look at these gorgeous things.

And back out to the Lower Perennial Garden.  Hope you enjoyed this visit to the Alaska Botanical Garden as much as I did!




 


22 comments:

  1. How fascinating to read your memories of when you still lived in Alaska, of the people who gardened where you grew up, and seeing a photo of it at it's prime, of which you could have developed the print yourself, cool!

    We love Nasturtiums! We may not grow it every year but they make great filler plants and how they trail and scramble away in between others.

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    1. I often forget to plant nasturtiums but will be better at remembering next year! The foliage is also delightful in salads!

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  2. I did enjoy your three posts about the ABG! And I loved seeing the old pictures. There are some people who still garden like that, filling their gardens every year with bedding annuals. I haven't seen a lot of it here, but back in Massachusetts I did. Maybe it's a feature of places with long, cold winters.

    I adore Nasturtiums, but I've never drunk the nectar from them. I've seen plenty of hummingbirds in my garden doing just that though. I don't have any snapdragons, I should try growing some from seed next year so that I can make them talk.

    Now it's time for you to start posting about the Fling. Please. I'm sitting here tapping my foot impatiently.

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    1. I usually put off posting about the fling until winter when we need some warm memories but maybe this year I'll post earlier.

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  3. Great tour. Those annual beds were like a visit to my grandmother's garden. She had lots of annuals, a riot of color, around her Craftsman style house with a few shrubs, all planted for her by my grandfather, and always a blue mophead hydrangea on the north side of the house. The rest of the large garden was planted in neat rows of fruit trees, berries and vegetables to feed eleven children and sweet peas on the fences "working alive", he would say, with honeybees. I love revisiting the past. Thanks for taking us with you on a visit to yours.

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    1. Your grandmother's garden sounds wonderful and what a special grandfather you had to plant it all for her! Nostalgia is a fun thing.

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  4. Your walk down memory lane made me realized we have another thing in common: printing (I'm still in it), although developing negatives is long gone. From those early photographs I see you were destined to be a gardener. Even the Outlaw part makes sense as Alaskans push boundaries to get the most out of their short season.
    The planter/staircase combo is brilliant!

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    1. Oh wow! Darkroom work is fun isn't it?

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  5. Wonderful installments on Alaska Botanical..and what a color burst that Blanchard garden must have been in it's day . I guess the pay-off for such a short growing season is everything happening all at once -drama !

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    1. Yes, perennials overlap more and things do happen quickly in that three month period!

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  6. I have really enjoyed your posts about your time in Alaska. I will probably never get to see the gardens myself, your photos were the next best thing! The meconopsis at the end are so gorgeous!

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    1. I'm glad you came along on the tour! That color of turquoise blue is pretty eye catching in the garden!

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  7. I had almost forgotten that we used to see bedding plants used like that in public places quite a bit. Almost never any more. The raised bed planters all at odd angles are a hoot. I love them.

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    1. There are still one or two downtown planting spaces here in Tacoma where mass planting is done but not like it used to be. I like the raised bed planters a lot but they'd take up a lot of space.

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  8. Your Alaska posts have been wonderful. I'm very impressed by the planter/stairway - it has me wondering if I could get my husband to build me something like that along our back slope...

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  9. I loved the old photos and memories most of all, don't tell anyone I've got a sentimental streak.

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    1. Your secret is safe with me oh dangerous and spiky one. You know, even porcupines have a soft side!

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  10. I like the lush beds of annuals, it's great to think Alaska can grow such plants, they make me think of Butchart Gardens, and the staircase planters are fun. I wish I felt confident to try to grow Meconopsis, such a beautiful blue!

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    1. Meconopsis are fairly easy in areas with cool nights as long as they have great soil. They're serious when they say moist but well drained! Go ahead, give it a try!

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  11. Loving the solid colour from the bedding plants. Nasturtium and Snapdragons are both lovely reliable plants to grow, and yes, I can remember drinking nectar from the snapdragons in the garden, but never the nasturtiums!

    Love the Meconopsis - do I dare ?

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  12. What a neat look into the past. I really like the staircase planters, though. Someone did a nice job designing and building those. Funny, I always got into arguments with my snapdragons...

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.