I am in Iceland at the moment, reportedly missing some really nice flowers in the TundraGarden.  The other day I went for a walk in Reykjavik, and saw some forget-me-nots by a fence.  I’m not sure if they were native or not, since there were a number of double-flowered columbines there which I am quite sure aren’t native.  The forget-me-nots were fairly tall, but the flowers were tiny and rather pale.

Forget-me-nots in Iceland.

Forget-me-nots in Iceland.

The ones I have at home are shorter (although getting taller with warmer weather–soon they will be as tall as they were when I got them in Point Hope) and much bluer.

Forget-me-not in Barrow

Forget-me-nots in Barrow


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The TundraGarden comes back to life

This blog is usually pretty quite in the winter.  The garden is buried under X feet of snow, and that just doesn’t make for a lot of interesting posts.  To top that off, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer last Thanksgiving, and died right after New Year’s.  She was a smoker, and it got her in the end.

But now the garden is coming back to life.  After a couple warm days, it has been a cold gray spring.  The ice never really opened up, so Barrow caught no whales, something which hasn’t happened in a very long time, since before I first visited in the 1980s, maybe a lot longer.

As late as the end of May, the garden was covered with a fair bit of snow.

TG at the end of May

TG at the end of May.

In a week and a half, the snow had melted, and the flowers had just begun to peek out.

The first Diapensia

The first Diapensia

Buttercups coming into bloom.

Buttercups coming into bloom.

Willows coming into bloom.

Willows coming into bloom.

Now things are really moving fast.  Just a week later the Diapensia are in full flower, the willow flowers are really huge, and buttercups (both snow and dwarf) are blooming!

S. longifolia in full bloom.

S. longifolia in full bloom.

Several willows in flower.

Several willows in flower.

Diapensia in full flower.

Diapensia in full flower.






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Getting closer!

So yesterday I walked out the door on the way to work to see this:

Car with a good dusting of snow.

The garden was pretty snowy as well.  It didn’t stick, but this is the most we’ve had so far.

Snow on the garden


Winter is coming!

The tundra (and the TundraGarden) are changing color.

The pond had its first ice this morning, which lasted until after noon.

And there was a small drift of snow against the door…

Winter is coming…

Talk on the TundraGarden


Yesterday I gave a talk on the TG to nearly 20 local folks!  It was part of a series, loosely centered on local food production, being put on by Ilisaġvik College as part of the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service.  I talked a bit about how the TG got started, showed a lot of plant & flower pictures and talked about how to get plants (step 1:  get permission of the land owner), and the cultural requirements of different plants.  I also talked a bit about water features & birds and animals in the garden.  The whole thing was taped, and when time permits will be edited and posted on BASCmedia’s YouTube channel.  I’ll put a link up then.

I also mentioned a number of books.  I’ve made a Book Lists page which I just put up.  I’ll add to it as I think of things.
I’m always happy to answer any questions.


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It’s been hot here too–by which I mean over 60° F

It has been very warm here the past several days.  This led to a massive midge hatch.   They love the BARC, for some reason, and pretty much cover the building when they are out.  Fortunately each hatch only lasts a few days.

Bugs all over the BARC doors

The heat really pushed things along in the TundraGarden. Everything was blooming at once.

Mertensias by the pond.

Close-up of a mertensia. More than a modest rosette of leaves, I’d say.

Moss campion, alas not flowering too well.

Forget-me-nots, the Alaska State Flower. This is the farthest north plant in Alaska.

A slightly bigger forget-me-not

The Stellaria are just starting.

A variety of tundra flowers.

Flowering willows.

More flowering willows.

And more!

Woolly louseworts.

It was so hot for several days that the woolly louseworts were starting to fade almost as soon as they started.  I was away for several days and missed the peak of their bloom this year.

TundraGarden in full bloom.

Naturally, all that hot weather brought a thunderstorm, even in Barrow.

Clouds building inland.

Clouds in a darkening sky.

I didn’t stay out to take pictures of the thunderstorm or the rainbow after, but it rained very hard.  It has been a bit cooler since.  In fact we’ve been the cold spot in the state…

A bit of rain…

…has really lead to a rapid greening-up of much of the garden, although the bits that were under the really deep snow are behind.  Right now, the potentillas & buttercups are going strong, so there are yellow flowers everywhere.

Yellow flowers of all sorts.

Dwarf buttercups.

Mosses have been spreading over the years (with encouragement).  Some of them are reproducing (blooming?, fruiting?) at the moment.

Moss reproducing.

Moss by whalebone.