Environmental Observations

What makes a good landscape design? Are those flowers edible? What grows best where?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Meanwhile, Spring Arrives in Alaska

The classic dream, a white picket fence and a rich bloomer, here it is Forsythia.

Though most parts of the country bask in summer—even Alaskan’s call this summer—botanically it’s still spring in the Great Land. Crocus came and left, tulips on southern exposures are blooming while their siblings in cooler spots will dot landscapes by end of May. Peony shoots have been working hard for the past month after snow left early this year—road crews began sweeping streets and sidewalks about three weeks prior to historical timelines. Spring primula are blooming, and vivid yellow pops of forsythia surprise walkers in older neighborhoods. Summers glow with twenty to twenty-four hours of sunlight per day in the north spurring all this rapid growth. The climate taught native and adapted plants to get it on in three busy months.

Primula working it's way up through last fall's leaves, April 22

And here’s a naturally curious tidbit about insects up north, some overwinter. Yes there are the standard flies, some adults live in crevices of buildings creeping out as higher angles of warm sun rays heat exteriors of structures. It’s kind of unnerving to open your curtains to a dozen or so pests frantically searching for an escape route between the window and screen. Tortoiseshell butterfly adults overwinter, the poor bedraggled wings flitting to warm gravel spots to elevate their body temperature. Even spiders, beetles, wasps, bumble bees, and other types of flies in the wild evolved to change their inner fluids to a sort of anti-freeze as they crawl under leaf litter to wait out the cold. Slugs have left pearly beads of eggs in the same leaf litter and anxious gardeners hope those beetles will find the eggs before they hatch. 

Milbert's tortoiseshell butterfly, April.

We’re preparing gardens now for planting, in fact some perennials went in the ground at the beginning of May. Homesteaders eager to get their own food growing traditionally planted gardens the first of June in South Central Alaska. Over the past fifteen years planting days crept up about three weeks earlier, depending on who you ask. Gardeners living on south facing slopes, or in warm coastal microclimates are a week ahead of those living in cool swales and at the feet of the Chugach Mountains. Flower cutting gardens, long the envy of plant lovers from the Lower 48, will soon burst with color. Those who moved to Anchorage in the early to mid-twentieth century surrounded themselves with towering delphiniums, plump peonies, and dazzling dahlias. That still happens today, along with trollius, primulas, clematis, and hostas.  

Lawn post snow, April 22

May 15, first watering

Plants are living with the climate adjustment. Thank goodness for all those overwintering insects, the early bloomers will be happy to host them.

Learning about Intersectional Environmentalism

Trail leaving the northern most point of the  Pacific Temperate Rainforest in Girdwood, AK. When I see acres of rainforest burning, or the s...