2005 ~ Alaska blog archives ~ Nature & Literature Blog
Evening June 17, 2006 (2006-06-18 01:11:58)
Sky over garden at 10PM June 17. We're only a few days from the solstice.
Garden. Remay cloth covers onions. Last year by September we had onions
weighing as much as 2 pounds each.
We've been weeding like crazy but after a a couple of soaking rains the
chickweed would like to take over. I thinned two rows of carrots -- far
end of garden to left by fence. The chickweed was a solid mass, twice
the height of the needle thin carrot seedlings, and required concentration
similar to hand sewing a hem.
garden (June 20, 2006) (2006-06-23 20:19:01)
Day lilies and iris, dependable flowers even after cold, windy winters
without much snow cover.
Close up of day lily which manages to cycle through several blossoms so
that the fading blossom, the blossom in its prime, and the buds are all
visible simultaneously, kind of like an extended family.
11:15 PM June 24, 2006 (2006-06-25 01:10:17)
The best part of Alaska is summer for a week or two on either side of
Solstice. Days are deliciously long and especially enjoyable when it isn't
raining. This afternoon the clouds vanished, showing up the weather forecasters
who had forecast rain through the weekend. (Today is Saturday, or at least
it was until about 3 minutes ago.) I noticed the last bit of sun striking
the top of Pioneer Peak and rushed out to get a picture -- it was about
11:15PM. Couldn't resist taking a few flower photos at the same time.
I like the soupy richness of the late summer twilight hours for really
bringing out the colors.
Day lilies, camera facing northwest about where the sun had just dropped
below the forested fringe of a horizon.
The lilacs started blooming a few days ago, probably about the latest
blooming lilacs in the world. This photo is of a lilac that probably dates
back to the 1960s or older.
A columbine of unknown name that my sister had in her garden in Oregon.
Baby Spiders on Bergenia (June 25, 2006) (2006-06-25 13:50:36)
This stopped me in my tracks... caused me to backtrack, get my camera,
and post these. Last year I saw the spiders in the woods. This year they're
right there in the garden. Can't imagine they'll escape the sharp eyes
of the birds for long. The outer part of the ball was in motion. Some
spiders were running around in the thickwebbing above the ball. It looks
like the gray spider shapes suspended in the web below the main ball are
cast of spider "shells' -- the other idea is maybe they're dead spiders.
See my post that included baby spiders
from last year -- June 27, 2005
storm clouds (6/25/2006) (2006-06-26 22:27:12)
The sky over the garden definitely qualifies as part of the gardening
topic. About the time I launched into the weeding project--extracting
grass, dandelions, clover and equisetum from among the perennials--I noticed
the thunderheads towering high in the sky only slightly to the southwest.
(To take this photo I was standing at the northeast corner of the garden
and looking across the garden, facing southwest.) As I was standing in
bright sunlight and taking these pictures, thunder rumbled from out of
the clouds. I didn't see lightning but this all brought back memories
of the destructive seconds in early
June 2005. In case you didn't pay any attention when your mom said
"don't talk on the phone during an electrical storm," I suggest you take
that advice to heart. That afternoon, in 2005, things, including the phones,
got seriously fried around here.
The sky overhead opened up (who invented that cliche?)... the rain began
with a few hesitant drops but quickly accelerated into some version of
gravity affected torrents and what I had hoped might have been a fast
moving, quick passing thunderstorm morphed into a night of steady rain,
plus, for good measure a power outage that lasted hours and engulfed (according
to the newspaper the next morning) most of southcentral Alaska.
flowers and baby spiders (June 27, 2006) (2006-06-27
my perennial garden pages from 2001.
The baby spiders and their web survived the day of rain.
Trollius, shooting star, and iris humilis are perennials that have
been reliably hardy here. I think the white version of shooting star is
kind of unusual. I bought this plant in Homer two summers ago and this
(one stalk and the flowers in this photo) is the best it has flowered.
The center of the iris humilis clump died after three or four years
but the edges are now forming their own clumps. I know now to divide the
clumps frequently to avoid the die-out problem. I started the trollius
from seed in about 1999 and they seem to be bigger with more blooms every
See garden photos and info for 1999 and 2001.
The thing about this micro climate is that the growing season is fairly
short, although we usually get frost free days June through August, and
wind blows (or sublimates) the snow cover in the winter so often the ground
freezes quite a ways down and the top layers dessicate badly.
White Shooting Stars
Iris humilis is a dwarf yellow iris from the steppes of Russia
and into Mongolia. (2001)
some perennials blooming June 28, 2006 (2006-06-28
The spiders are gone today. Did a bird eat them or did they just scuttle
Rugosa rose. The rugosas really took a hit last winter after surviving
well for six or seven winters.
Iris. These are a native iris, reliable year after year. Need dividing
every few years.
Columbine, another reliable perennial. This is probably a second, third
or fourth generation plant from some that were growing here in 1983.
Phlox. The only survivors from a perennial flower mix I planted about
seven or eight years ago. This one has moved from the garden side of a
hedge to the gravelly driveway side of the hedge, a distance of about
2 feet (as the crow flies!). These reseed and I'm skeptical that they
moth and cosmos (June 30, 2006) (2006-06-30 19:45:06)
Moth on strawberry leaf after rain. No camouflage. Probably only a matter
of time until a bird spots this silly moth.
Cosmos (an annual) after rain.
misty garden (July 6, 2006) (2006-07-06 13:37:47)
The weather forecasters finally got the rain they've been predicting for
a couple days... which turns the garden into a kind of supersaturated,
mystical environment of intense colors and giant water droplets, absent
Lilies, rugosa roses, clematis and calendula.
The green, messiness of violets.
Rugosa rose. Ben tells me that the water beads on the leaves because the
surface of the leaf is waxy which makes it hydrophobic so the water has
to minimize the contact area with the leaf. See Ben's blog http://metadarwinist.blogspot.com
clashing colors -- garden close-ups (7/12/06)
Low sunlight angle, about 9:30 pm brings out the colors.
One floret of the lychnis, a dependable, gaudy scarlet perennial that
reseeds prolifically but is easy to discourage. I'm convinced that it
attracted the only hummingbirds we've ever seen here.
Rugosa rose is a worthy plant for its continuous color and aroma of, well,
roses, a welcome distraction this far north.
Cosmos. A sweet easy-to-grow annual that blooms most of the summer.
baby birds and eating worms (7/17/06) (2006-07-17
A clump of large birch trees that hold a kid-built tree house from years
ago exuded bird talk as parents fed their chick. I retrieved my camera
from the house and all the adult birds fled. I snapped a picture of a
juvenile holding very still, recently (and temporarily) abandoned by the
noisy parents. A baby bird flapped its wings madly and made it to some
dead branches about 15 feet from the birch trees. Even from a distance
of 30 feet or so, the camera noise associated with each exposure seemed
to make the baby bird flinch. And it turned out there were two bird families
inhabiting the birch clump and surroundings: chickadees and white crowned
white crowned sparrow chick -- notice two darker stripes on head
robin and worm
(The robins here are shy and take off when people show up but this robin
was so focussed on getting his worm that he put up with me standing 20
feet or so away, as well as the camera's clicks and thunks.)
Quoted in the Anchorage Daily News! (2006-07-20
Out in the Valley, Kathryn Eberhart's combination blog and Web site
eschews gardening tips for "just kind of experiencing Alaska," with lots
of photos and a webcam.
Visitors to Eberhart's blog find "a balancing act between nature and the
garden." Along with photos of cultivated flowers are comments about weather,
mountains and the woods adjoining her home.
"In my mind, it's all connected. The garden is a tame version of the nature
that's all around us," Eberhart says. "We're keeping nature at bay because
the trees will come in in a minute if you don't mow."
Quotes from Anchorage Daily News: "Fertilizing The Web, Alaska gardeners'
Internet blogs explore the dirt from Barrow to Kodiak" in the Anchorage
Daily News by Donna Freedman (July 13, 2006).
garden update (july 22, 2006) (2006-07-22 23:58:35)
My flower garden borders between tame and wild, with an edge to perennials
that are hardy and durable. Some years I realize that a certain plant
may be taking over and then I begin to weed it out which is exactly what's
going to happen to the Lychnis (tall scarlet flowers in the photo below).
It turns out that lychnis is a hardy perennial that also reseeds easily
if the blooms aren't promptly dead-headed.
This morning--a cloudy morning--was perfect for photographing garden colors
without the distraction of shiny bright leaves. Below is what now seems
to be a fairly random collections of photos from the gardens surrounding
Perennials lychnis, columbine, and delphinium, the shorter hedges are
contoneaster, the taller bushy hedge that needs more radical pruning is
caragana (also called Siberian Pea). Pioneer Peak is in background.
Seedling raised delphiniums are widely variable, some more pleasing than
Monkshood (Aconitum), hardy and grows easily from seed.
Honeysuckle which is marginally hardy here. Some years it dies back quite
a bit. On the left are hop vines that will be raised as annuals here but
are aggresively twining up the trellis.
Hardy Norland apples grafted on Siberian crabapple rootstock.
Chinese golden apple, grafted on Siberian crabapple rootstock, semi-espaliered
on a south wall. Hardy and tough but hard to pollinate because this tree
blooms first due to the favorable location next to the house, which is
usually before any other apple or crabapple trees in the vicinity are
Begonia. Of course these bulbs can be saved indoors over winter. Somehow
I killed my old begonia bulbs last year so am starting fresh with new
Rainbow at Sunset (8/6/2006) (2006-08-09 02:54:09)
Rainbow, delphiniums and lilies at sunset.
Moose in garden (October 23, 2006) (2006-11-04
late fall -- moose and calf in garden
After the moose! (November 2, 2006) (2006-11-04
apparently either moose don't like romaine or they didn't find the last
garden 2005 ~ Alaska blog archives
~ Nature & Literature Blog