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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Alaska Botanical Garden Part Two; Herb Garden and Lyle's Garden

Designed by Cathy Sage and Land Design North, and built in 1996, the Herb Garden is a haven of botanical delights.  It showcases a variety of annual and perennial medicinal and culinary herbs, some native to Alaska.  This garden is maintained by the Herb Study Group.

Here we are at the main entrance to the circular garden surrounded by a wooden structure which encloses a path around the garden.

The herbs are planted in a series of raised concrete beds.

 There are openings in the wood structure around the perimeter  to allow visitors to re enter from various points. So many interesting herbs!  There were more varieties of mint than I knew existed.

View of the path surrounding the garden.
 Fun facts from the ABG website:

The average annual precipitation in the
Anchorage area is just over 15 inches.
The average annual temperature is only
35.7 degrees Fahrenheit. In June, July,
and August, the average daily high
temperatures are in the mid 60's, with
a range from 55 to 80 degrees.
The longest day of the year falls on summer
solstice, June 20 or 21. In Anchorage, the
solstice brings 19 hours and 20 minutes of
daylight. Anchorage's shortest day of the year
is in late December, with only 5 hours and 28
minutes of daylight.
In the Anchorage area, the growing
season is about 120 days long. The first
frost-free date can vary widely, from the end
of April until the end of May; and the first
Autumn frost may occur anytime between
the end of August and the middle of
September. A "typical" growing season is
mid-May through mid-September. Changes
in elevation of 500 feet in the Anchorage
bowl can shorten the growing season by
one week on each end!
On to Lile's garden.  This peaceful and serene garden is named in honor of Lile Bernard Rasmuson.  Recently completed, it was designed by renowned landscape architect, Carol R. Johnson, in conjunction with local firm, Earthscape.  Plantings and selections were  guided by local artist and garden designer, Ayse Gilbert.

Plantings and selections were  guided by local artist and garden designer, Ayse Gilbert. Fruit trees hardy to Southcentral Alaska are showcased here, as well as a new "Gold Medal" Peony collection and Primula collection. 

Notice the sprinkler.  I noticed in several locations (hospital lawn among them - my first great, great niece was born while we were there) that there are no in ground sprinkler systems in use in this area.

It was explained to me, in nice monosyllabic words that I could understand, that the ground freezes many feet deep here and, even if the systems were drained, they would be destroyed.  Hmm.

I liked the paving in this garden! 

I learned later on a tour of the Miller garden that this is a native.  I was also told not to get too excited as "this is it's moment"  meaning that it doesn't bloom long as berry production is where it puts most of it's energy.  Still the large foliage is lovely.

Part of the primula and peony collections.

Iris setosa playing a starring role in the garden.

This botanical garden uses the same irrigation strategy as I do.  Cool!

Follow the grey brick road!

And you'll see a cute little munchkin.  Funny, that's what the bear call them too.

The curvaceous lines of the paths in Lyle's garden appeal to me.  I admire straight and angular paths and beds but can't pull them off in my garden.  For me curving paths add a quality of mystery as they disappear around a corner.
Another lovely primula.

The Bergenia in the front of the bed had finished blooming but those flashes of red sure catch the eye!

 Oriental poppies!  Yum!

It's hard to pass up the opportunity to take some pictures of these photogenic flowers!

One more post about ABG and we're off to see an incredible garden in zone 2.  Yes zone two! 


  1. Poppies and Primulas still blooming, how cool is that? I use that same irrigation strategy too, at least for my garden beds. We have in-ground irrigation for the grass in the back, and for the veggie beds. Also...umm...you didn't actually name the little native plant with the pink flowers that is having its moment of glory, what is it?

    1. I'm thinking that it's a pink form of Rubus parviflorus or Thimbleberry.

  2. An herb garden created by woman named Sage! I should consider changing my last name to reflect my gardening passion, or add a middle name. I love those paths as well: anything circular adds motion to the garden as do curved beds. Can't wait for part three.

    1. We giggled about that too. Plenty of people do it - Violet, Fern, Rose, Iris, the list goes on and on. Let's hope you don't become a big fan of Ranunculus constantinopolitanus. Imagine the space your name would take up on checks.

  3. Congrats on your great great (in more ways than one I'm sure) uncle status!

  4. It's a very pretty garden but the thing that stood out for me was how neat and tidy it was! How do they manage that, I wonder?

    1. It's so cold there that the weeds are afraid to grow! Seriously though, they have a very active group of volunteers, some of whom were working while we were there.

  5. The hardscapes in the herb garden have me salivating, but I'll leave the "munchkin" alone.

    1. They did a great job in designing that! Munchkin optional.

  6. I like the groupings and mass planting in this area, and more so the layout, paving and hard landscaping with the raised beds, trellises, and covered walkways.

  7. And this is Anchorage?!? When my sister sends me photos, all there is seems to be cottonwood, sitka spruce, and snow.

    1. Your sister must only send pictures of that other season. It's very beautiful there in any season. Maybe your sister is sending you bad pictures so that you won't be tempted to leave California. Are you two close?

  8. What a wonderful place to visit, I love all the planting and the snaking paths through the beds. It's lovely to see the poppies, iris and peonies flowering, those red poppies certainly jump out at you!

    1. It was a beautiful place to visit and showed that beautiful gardens can be grown even in very cold climates!

  9. This is beautiful...I think I must won the lottery and go visit all the gardens from South to North in the Pacific coast from USA and Canada...

  10. What a wonderful botanic gardens in Alaska, Peter!
    Who could think that so many plants are there and they bloom and grow well! On your photo #11 is Rubus odoratus or Rubus deliciosus. I have it in my garden, we call it raspberry decorative. I like also the paving of tiles, very nice!

    1. Thank you so much for the plant identification, Nadezda! I'm glad you enjoyed this northern garden!

  11. Love the paths, and the primulas, too! I know it gets really cold in winter, but it must be nice not having the summer browning we get further south.

  12. Great hardscape here, and I love the iris and poppies. Very hard to imagine gardening in a climate like that. I was really surprised there was so little rainfall.


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