As the days lengthen but the cool and wet temperatures drag on, the primal urge to seek signs of spring grows strong within us all.
Budding trees and sprigs of green may be hard to find out in the natural world at this time of year in Alaska, but with a bit of simple modern technology and the help of some local professionals, they are simple enough to bring into your life and home.
Greenhouses abound in Alaska – both private and commercial. These structures are essential for extending the growing season beyond its usually cramped constraints. For early spring plants, you can set up your own greenhouse, or you can turn any of the horticultural professionals in the Eagle River-Chugiak area.
Several options exist to suit your needs, whether you are interested in wholesale or retail purchases, or are in the market for flowers, trees, vegetables or herbs. One of the local greenhouses – Mile 5.2 Greenhouse in the middle of Eagle River – supplies a wide variety of plants from everyday herbs to surprising plants of a more tropical persuasion.
Owner Dale Walberg started growing herbs in the front yard at mile 5.2 on Eagle River Road.
Now, nineteen years and a business move into the center of town later, he offers quite a bit more than just basil and rosemary – though those herbs continue to be available.
At Mile 5.2 Greenhouse, many perennials begin to emerge from dormancy after the long winter. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, fig trees and herbs all rest through the winter to return to life early in the spring. As the season progresses, a much wider variety of plants become available. Before the snow even is completely off the ground, hanging baskets, trees and bushes join the berries and herbs in the greenhouse and outside around the lush acre.
In addition to the basics, those in the market for something a bit more unusual will be pleased to find banana trees, coffee plants, pineapples and kiwi vine. While these tropical plants may need to lead indoor lives to thrive and fruit, others can be rotated outside when the weather is warm.
One of these, the dwarf lemon tree is a Mile 5.2 specialty. These lemon trees may be smaller than a traditional tree, but the fruit is conventionally-sized.
As the spring continues into summer, most business happens outside of the greenhouse. A large selection of shrubs, trees and vegetables are available to choose from. Gardeners can be confident that all plants are hardy enough for the area.
For gardeners looking to increase their curb appeal, Perennial Gardens in Birchwood provides bright hues and a range of colors. Old favorites and new additions can be found through the extensive grounds. Owned by Dawn Nugen and in business since 1949, Perennial Gardens is a prime spot for seeking springtime blooms. The greenhouse located at 20779 S. Birchwood Loop Rd.
To speed up the return of spring, be sure to turn to our local horticulturists to add color and life to your home and garden. Before long, it will surround us all once again.
Sara Kennedy is a special education teacher in the Anchorage School District. She likes to swim, bike and run around Alaska, and camp and fish with her family. To reach Sara, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.