Tag Archives: willow

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.

Buttercups!

Buttercups!

 

 

 

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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…

The TG gets some visitors (or so I hear)

The TundraGarden has really greened-up in the past couple of weeks.  It went from this:

Snow in the TG on June 15.

to this:

June 20

in the space of five days, while I was on a quick trip to upstate New York taking my daughter to spend part of the summer with her grandmother!  The willows are green and the dwarf and Arctic buttercups are in full bloom.

Iridescent buttercups

And a good thing, too.  There were a number of people who had been attending the Arctic Imperatives conference and were now touring the Arctic.  They flew into Barrow and were given a bus tour.  My husband was acting as tour guide, and must have mentioned the TG, since the participants demanded that the bus be detoured so they could see it.  Apparently people were enthusiastic and many pictures were taken.

Green-up!

We had a lot of snow this past winter, and it has taken forever to melt.  The drifting over the TG was different than usual, with a storm that cut a tunnel near the windows, so this year the main part of the garden is melting out before the pond.

The TundraGarden makes its appearance.

The dried grass & willow branches have been showing for a week or so, but now they are out and signs of green are starting to show up.  The Artemisia arctica is just starting to send up shoots.

Artemisia arctica shoots.

Giant-flowered willows!

The willows are in full flower.  Since willows here are pretty tiny, growing horizontally rather than vertically for the most part (although they seem to be trying to grow up a bit as the climate warms), the flowers really stand out, since they are about twice as high as the plants themselves.  I’m not sure they are really any bigger than flowers on willows elsewhere, but they are definitely more noticeable.

Once you notice them, it turns out they are really quite beautiful in their own quiet way.  The light was great this afternoon, a high bright fog, so I took a few pictures.

A veritable forest of willow flowers.

Willow flowers from ground level (with a couple saxifrages in bud for variety)

Bug's-eye view of willow flowers.

Another type of willow in close-up.

Close-up of willow flowers.