Katie Eberhart - Writing & Observations
Map of a Perennial Garden in Southcentral Alaska
Index to Flowers on Map: Potentilla | Day Lily | Verbascum | Tweedii | Shooting Star | Pasque Flower | Mountain Buttercup | Veronica Incana | Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis) | Creeping Perenniali Thyme | Snow-In-Summer | Arabis | Red Osier Dogwood | Violet (White) | Dwarf Fireweed | Arctic (or Wild) Iris (Iris setosa) | Trollius | Dianthus | Silene maritima | Iris humilis | Cranesbill | Cut Leaf Anemone | Lewisia
In 1999 we started this garden from seedlings, volunteer plants, and plants rescued from a garden that was to become lawn. These pages are a look at this small garden in its second summer.
Our climate: winter is severe with extreme temperatures, winds, and severe chill factors. Often the ground is without snow cover. Winter is hard on plants. Summers have plenty of daylight but have many cool and overcast days. We've been in a dryer than normal period the last eight or ten years, so on top of this, the ground may be dry. This northern garden location requires hardy plants.
Garden Journal 2001: The spring of 2001 has been especially cool and wet. The ground is still frozen down about 18 inches on May 19th. If there was an award for earliest, hardiest, most attractive perennial, I would give it to Ranunculus Eschscholtzii (Mountain Buttercup) which has been blooming for over three weeks through snow storms and freezing nights. Second will be the Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla) which has a few small blossoms on May 19th. The Fairy Slipper orchid, which grows on a long-ago rotted log beneath some old birch trees, started blooming on May 17 in 2001. (See garden journal for 2005.)
By June 2nd, the Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) began blooming. We have two clumps that have both grown larger in the three years since we transplanted them. They are quite different, one has flowers that are a pale lavendar, the other is a vibrant fuschia color. The Trollius, which I started from seed four years ago, also began blooming at the beginning of June. Next to the red tulips, these two are holding down a garden while we wait for the annuals and the later flowering perennials (Delphinium, Lychnis).
June 11, Iris humilis, a dwarf yellow iris from the steppes of Russia and into Mongolia, began blooming. There is a small patch of it that puts out a mass of flowers on short stems that last for about a day. Two or three days later it repeats this show.
June 12, the first Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) has flowered. The others have huge buds so should be showing their color soon.
June 17, the tall purple Arctic (or Wild) Iris (Iris setosa) are beginning to bloom. Some come from an Iris that was passed along to me many years ago. Others, are from seed that I started several years ago.
June 27. Two forest fires have been burning this week, one is in the Interior, the other on the Kenai Peninsula south of Moose Pass. Smoke has backed up in the Matanuska Valley. Yesterday we couldn't see the mountains at all for a while. Today it's been more like a thick haze, although the edge of a thunder storm passed over us so the air cleared somewhat. It was hot this afternnon -- a scorching 76° F. even with some clouds.
Flowers: Delphiniums are getting huge. The Delphinium in front of the web cam this measured 67" tall this morning, seven inches taller than two days ago.! The tight bud spikes are forming but no flowers yet.
I keep picking the spent flowers of the Trollius to try to prolong their blooms as long as possible. Once finished blooming these are trimmed to a compact mound of nice-looking foliage.
The first deep pink Rugosa Roses opened two days ago. Many more coming on.
I've been whacking back the world's ugliest Lupine (Leguminosae) and am thinking about removing it altogether. It is a mystery plant, nearly four feet tall, propagating easily by seed and root runners. (It will be deadheaded this year.) The front plant has white flowers that become unattractive very quickly. I see the back plant has bluish flowers so am waiting to see how long they last. The only redeeming feature is the beautiful foliage and that it is successfully taking over a piece of garden that nothing else liked.
The Columbine (Aquilegia) garden is getting a lot of color now. These flowers have been re-seeding since before 1983 and they have a lovely combination of pale colors--white, yellow, pinks, as well as brighter two-toned colors -- burgundy and yellow, lavendar and white, dark pink and white. This is a long spurred variety, and probably due to its tap root is very winter hardy and can take dry soil conditions in summer. The other successes at the edge of this bed, part of which was formerly a hard-packed gravel driveway (appropriately dug out and built up with top soil and composted manure) are the Lychnis chalcedonica (Caryophylaceae campion), Delphiniums and Trollius. The Oriental Poppy was a failure here, probably due to the very cold, sometimes dry winter conditions. There are some Asiatic lilies interspersed with the Columbines but they are such late bloomers that they don't compete very well.
The Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis) are just about finished and the Himalayan Blue Poppies are in full bloom, their delicate, pale blue flowers nodding gracefully. These plants are very hardy.
The Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is putting on its best show of the year, its dainty red and yellow flowers floating en masse for visual impact.
Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium) is a mass of white above silvery leaves with the bright pink Dwarf Fireweed just starting to show some color.
The Iris humilis are just about finished although the taller Siberian Iris (shades of purple and blue) are still going strong.
The Day Lily has been gaining steam over the last week with quite a few bright orange flowers waving lazily on long graceful stems.
The Clematis Tangutica is blooming and sending out more runners. Eventually I hope it will hide the ugly well pipe.
And the tiny creeping perennial Thyme is showing off with a mass of miniature purple flowers.
One of the mystery plants was the Verbascum. I moved a lot of seedlings to the garden under the Honeysuckle last year. Their ground-hugging rosettes have grown a lot bigger and are now sending up flower stalks.
This page last updated March 5, 2012