Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rainy-day visit to the Alaska Botanical Garden

Living in drought-ridden California, I had forgotten what rain is. But last Friday I got a reacquainted with the wet stuff that occasionally falls from the sky when I dragged my cousin Shannon to the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage. Born and raised in Alaska, Shannon had never been there and was happy to finally get a chance to see it.

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Where else do you have a moose fence?

Even though it wasn’t raining constantly—it was more of a fine drizzle—there were only two other visitors at the garden. That was completely fine by me since I didn’t have to wait for people to move out my picture.

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As you can see below, most flowers were gone but many trees and shrubs were at their fall best. I hadn’t expected to find such brilliant colors and I was giddy with the photo ops that presented themselves all around me. I would love to go back to the Alaska Botanical Garden in June when the wildflowers are in bloom—and their surprisingly large collection of Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis sp.)—but now for I’m thrilled I was able to take so many beautiful fall pictures.

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This is the first botanical garden I’ve visited where I was told be “bear aware”

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The dying fern against the black rock made for a striking image

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Possibly the most photogenic cabbage I’ve ever seen

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I couldn’t get enough of views like this one

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Currants

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More currants

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Leaf-covered path bordered by a hand-made willow fence

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Birch leaves

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Willow fence

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Moss-covered glacial erratic

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Variegated meadow sweet (Filipendula ulmaria ‘Variegata’)

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What’s left of summer

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Impossibly photogenic kale and cabbage

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It isn’t much, but it’s the only succulent I saw

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I was surprised to find fruit on this Evans sour cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘Evans’)

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Rodgersia podophylla

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Astilboides tabularis

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More remnants of summer

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I’ll admit, I couldn’t get enough of these fall tapestries

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Lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.)

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Rosehip

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Foliage of one of the rare Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis × sheldonii)

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Alpine Rock Garden

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Alpine Rock Garden

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Delicate plantings in a hypertufa trough

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Forest views galore!

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I might make myself a print of this photo and hang it on the wall

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Entrance to the Herb Garden

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Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

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Tricolor sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’)

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Red-vein sorrel (Rumex sanguineus)

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Entrance to Lile’s Garden

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Lile’s Garden

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Gabions, another unexpected fine

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It’s rare seeing a bench in such a contemporary style

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Crapapple (Malus sp.)

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Highbush cranberry (Virburnum edule)

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I have no idea what these striking blue-purple flowers are. Any guesses?

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Ditto here

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‘Elegance Salmon Rose’ sweetpeas

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Blue curled Scotch kale

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Anchorage Heritage Garden. The bed of this blue Chevy truck was filled with vegetables.

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NOID mushroom. Looks dangerous to me!

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Plant sale area

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Hosta’ Empress Wu’, one of the largest hosta cultivars ever created. If I lived in the right climate, I’d have several of these!

The idea of a botanical garden in Anchorage was born in 1983 but it took another ten years before it opened its doors to the public on July 25, 1993. Today the Alaska Botanical Garden occupies 110 acres of land leased from the Municipality of Alaska. Most of the land is boreal forest in its natural state, with trails connecting a series of cultivated gardens that include two hardy perennial gardens (Lile’s Garden and the Lower Perennial Garden), an Herb Garden, an Alpine Rock Garden, an Entry Shade Garden, an Alaskan Kitchen Garden, and a new Anchorage Heritage Garden.

Unfortunately, most of the gardens weren’t at their best at this time of year. To see what they look like at the height of summer, check out this comprehensive three-part article on Peter Herpst’s blog Outlaw Gardener: 1 2 3. There even are photos of the Himalayan blue poppies I’ve recently become enamored with!

In closing, I’d like to thank the anonymous germ donor who so generously gave me their cold virus on one of the flights I took last week. I won’t forget you!

14 comments:

  1. A most beautiful posting!

    Fie on the bad-mannered person who passed on his/her germs to you. Nasty anytime, but especially on a vacation.

    I think fall in Alaska beats what I've seen on the east coast in Maine and Quebec. Yes, those places have mixed hardwood, but the colors are pale pastels.

    The forest undergrowth in Alaska seen on the roadsides is so varied in color, size and texture, and there is so much of it. Plus there is the tundra to tramp with so many tiny colorful berries and leaves and mosses. Were you able to see the aurora at any time?

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    1. There's so much coughing and sneezing on planes, and their ventilation systems simply spread the germs around. No wonder people get sick after air travel. But it was all worth it. I saw so much beauty, I'm still trying to process it all.

      I didn't see the northern lights, unfortunately. It was overcast the entire time I was in Anchorage (although my cousin had seen them just the week before I arrived). And from Adak you can only see the aurora two or three times a year.

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  2. Gorgeous from start to finish! I love Alaska and want to go back there when I'm not encumbered by an over-controlled tour schedule. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos!

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    1. I think an organized tour is a good introduction, but ultimately you see much more if you strike out on your own. I must admit I've been bitten by the Alaska bug and can't wait to go back. Although my heart still belongs to the desert.

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  3. Autumn mode so early, but then again it's Alaska. Fabulous images!

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  4. Sorry you caught a cold! How beautiful the garden is in the fall! I was thrilled to see it when I did but your images are stunning! Hope you enjoyed your time in my home state.

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    1. The timing was perfect. Fall color *and* some remnants of summer. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

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  5. Really beautiful -- I especially love the colorful forest views! The two varieties of Filipendula ulmaria are quite nice too, although I expect it might be too hot and humid here... I may try those anyway next year!

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    1. I was really surprised by the variety of plants they can grow. In hindsight I shouldn't have, considering Anchorage is "only" zone 4, but cold-winter gardening is entirely new territory to me.

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  6. Gorgeous Gerhard, I can see you all giddy with your camera in the drizzle. Kind of like me when we end up in New Mexico or Arizona during the winter months. I'm glad your schedule allowed you time to visit the garden.

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    1. I didn't have too much time to go exploring around Anchorage because the point of my trip was to go to Adak. But I'm hoping to drive the Alaska Highway someday soon, all the way from British Columbia.

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  7. Oh what a beautiful place and I love your photos-you must have had so much fun taking them. Your purple mystery plant sure reminded me of the way Liatris blooms from the bottom up, but the foliage bears no resemblance.

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    1. It reminded me of liatris, too. In fact, in my mind I referred to it as the "arctic gayfeather," LOL.

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