Monthly Archives: June 2010

More & better buttercups

It was a nice sunny day, and the buttercups were really spectacular. So here are a few more pictures for the buttercup fans out there.

Pigmy or dwarf buttercups.

Buttercups in the sunshine



Buttercups & Summer

On the Solstice, the snow buttercups (Ranunculus nivalis) were just opening.  They are always the first flowers to bloom in the TundraGarden.  Usually they are bit earlier, but it is a late melt.  Not really Solstice material.

Snow buttercups on Solstice

It was cloudy for several days in a row, so they opened slowly, but by yesterday they were open, although it was still pretty cloudy, so they aren’t as spectacular looking as they can be.

Same snow buttercups on July 25

Next up are the pygmy buttercups (Ranunculus pygmaeus), which are really tiny little things.

Pygmy buttercups

The new pond has arrived in a box!

Now to unroll it, let it settle, and oh yeah, take all the grass and water out of the tub, remove that, reshape the hole for the new pond & replant….

A new pond?

There used to be a pond in the TundraGarden, which we had constructed out of a cast iron bathtub which was discarded when the bathroom in our house was upgraded.  Unfortunately, some over-vigorous snow removal wound up ripping it out of the ground and deforming it, and it just wasn’t the same.  The snow removal operation came within 2 inches of driving one of the piling pieces which frame the main garden into an exposed natural gas line, which would probably have ruptured & maybe blown up the place, so it really was a bit too aggressive.

Anyway, I’ve been tossing around a replacement.  It needed to be fairly deep, since the arctophylla I’m growing there wants some water depth to grow right.  The preformed ponds that had that depth were all insanely expensive to ship here, and I wasn’t too eager to get into the whole underlayment/pond liner thing given how windy it can be here.  I just found a new type of pond that is preformed but flexible, and comes rolled up, so I’ve ordered one, and am waiting eagerly.  The replanting won’t be fun; mucking around in freezing cold water never is, never mind what sort of insulated gloves you wear.

The snow is completely off the garden.  I was going to get some pictures to put up, but was picking paint flakes out of the willows, stood up and smashed my head on the much larger meter base the electricians installed last year.  It sticks way out from the pole.  Saw stars, so there will be pictures in a day or so.

Spring is here!

Finally! The snow is melting fast, which is pretty much making a mud hole out of the “gravel” parking lot at work. It’s driving Maasak, the maintenance guy, nuts, because all he has time to do is sweep up the mud coming in on peoples’ boots.

Monday I was lucky enough to get 3 geese from friends who had been very fortunate on a hunting trip. Up here we like spring geese best, and the season closes soon to let them nest & raise the goslings in peace. It was nice, almost no wind, so I decided to clean them outside. It can be a bit messy, so I put on stuff that could wash easily, and ended up sitting outside in shorts & a sweatshirt plucking geese for a few hours.  I put my chair in the snow (to keep the birds cleaner if I dropped them). It was actually quite pleasant and sunny, with almost no wind until the very end, when a breeze came up and blew down back at me, pretty much covering me from head to toe.

In the process I dropped a couple of wings I had trimmed, and didn’t manage to pick them up, since I wanted to get the extra birds vacuum sealed and in the freezer ASAP.  Yesterday I got some more pictures of the TG, and the wings are visible in the one below, next to the grill.   That whole area was snow-covered at the beginning of the week.

I managed to get a couple more pictures.  The first just shows the sad state of the bathtub/pond with the Arctophylla.  It was nailed by someone clearing snow with a front end loader last winter, and clearly something needs to be done.  It means a lot of digging, and I think I’d like to replace it, but getting a preformed pond of any size up here is proving a challenge, and I’m not sure that the pond liner route would work too well in unstable gravel, since I’m not sure the edges would stay covered too well.

The garden is starting to grow a little, although most of it is still in snow, and it needs to be cleaned up a bit once that thaws.  I did get two pictures of new greenery.  The first is Ranunculus starting to come up.  I’m not sure which one; I’ve got two.  The second is buds on the willow just starting to break.

We really do have a lot of snow…

I was just looking for pictures of the TG from around this time last year. I found a couple, and they really confirm that snowmelt this year is slow.

Here it is (from a slightly different angle, since my back is messed up and I didn’t feel like going outside) today. Big difference. The bathtub hasn’t moved, nor have the logs, so they should orient you.

We did have a huge drift there this winter. The picture below is from February, when it was probably the biggest.

Spring is taking its sweet time getting to Barrow

By now, patches of tundra should be showing, and the Tundra Garden should at least be peeking through snow cover. Instead, there is still lots of snow everywhere, at least 3 feet on the TG! Birds are here, and expecting to make nests, but there is nowhere for them to put them. I’m not sure what they are going to do if it doesn’t melt pretty soon.

Despite that, there is plenty of mud, getting tracked in everywhere and making life tough for janitors and moms. The roads are a mess, with deep potholes all over, sometimes hidden by huge puddles, some of which are big enough to be ponds, at least. Driving is a nightmare, with trucks breaking tie rods and axles, and people getting jolted all over. A fellow I know had a couple of kids with him, one of whom apparently unbuckled at a stop. He hit a big pothole before she got buckled in, and she flew up, and smacked the window with her head hard enough to break it! Amazingly, she’s OK, with just a little egg.