Brief History of the Tundra Garden–Part 3.

The majority of the plants I added in the first year were from tundra in Barrow. Some of them actually came from areas around NARL. One of these is Epilobium latifolium, common names River Beauty or Dwarf Fireweed. There was a patch of these near the main science labs, the only one known in the Barrow area. I moved a few, and they’ve taken off. The books say they are wet area plants, but they were growing in gravel where I got them, and I have to say the ones I plopped in gravel seem to do better than the ones in the little depression.

That’s some of the Epilobium above in the center of the picture. I label the flowering plants, as well as samples of sedges & willows, since part of the purpose of the Tundra Garden is educational. I’ve never seen this bloom in Barrow. I have gotten it to set buds, but the birds seem to like them, and eat them as soon as they are ready to start opening (kind of like deer and tulips). This year I am going to try hot caps to keep the birds off and give extra warmth, if I can keep them from blowing away.

The labels are copper, and can be engraved with a pencil. They weather nicely, and don’t stick out like sore thumbs in the garden, but they are prone to twisting when pushed in and the copper then tends to pop off. I’m going to replace them this summer if I can. I think it doesn’t really matter if the labels are big, since most of the plants are so small you have to bend down to really see them. The 12″ x 12″s I built the box out of have worked well as benches for looking at the garden, although that certainly wasn’t the original idea; they were simply what was handy.


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