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Gardening

Want to get in on gardening action this year? Join the club.

  • Author: Jeff Lowenfels
    | Alaska gardening
  • Updated: February 7
  • Published February 7

Dahlias and yarrow get a good soaking in a flower bed at Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage on May 20, 2014. (Bill Roth / ADN)

It is still the ‘tween gardening time, too early to plant indoors, but so close to being able to. Luckily, there are non-plant things to do to keep occupied.

For starters, now is a great time to join one of the many gardening societies and clubs that exist throughout the state. Take the Alaska Botanical Garden, by way of example.

This year, in addition to all the other activities, The garden is setting beds that members can use all summer long while receiving guidance on what to do. Garden beds, that is, and what an opportunity. Only you have to join and sign up first. Even without a garden bed there are all manner of classes to help you, so join.

Not in Anchorage? Want to get in on the action at the Georgeson Botanical Garden in Fairbanks? I am sure The Georgeson Botanical Garden Society would love to have you as a member. Again, they are not coming to find you; you have to make the move. Once you do, there are all manner of educational opportunities.

In Juneau, the Jenson-Olsen Arboritum could surely benefit from another friend, and joining will have its benefits by way of new learning.

Then there are all manner of garden clubs throughout the state. The Willow Garden Club, for example, has some great winter meetings at the Willow Community Center. You have to join to find out when, however. Juneau? Sitka? Skagway?

You get it. There are garden clubs in Haines, Kodiak and almost any other place in the state. Just search Facebook for “Alaska garden clubs” (though I hate to promote Facebook). You have to join them; They are not coming to get you. Now is the time, not in the middle of the summer when you are busy. You will get valuable information you can use in this year’s gardens.

You might also consider joining some of the national horticultural societies. There is one that covers any garden topic that interests you. Peonies? The American Peony Society has all manner of publications that may be of interest. Fuchsia? You live in the place where they grow best. Why not connect with other experts? Same with begonias. The American Begonia Society might just be your cup of tea.

OK, not everything you grow has a club or society. I looked for one on yacons. I didn’t find one, but they are covered by both the National Herb Society and The Pacific Bulb Society.

Then there is seed buying, an important action item this time of year. I like to buy locally, if I can, and so does my good Kodiak friend and fellow gardener, Marion Owen. Marion has developed a system for ordering seeds, not seed catalogs but rather seeds from them. Having visited Marion’s gardens a number of times, I can assure you that her system works. Check it out at marionowenalaska.com.

I also know Marion is a phenom photographer and a great cook as well as terrific gardener. She has a new newsletter with lots of great recipes and garden stuff. You can sign up on her website.

Finally, now is the time to start prowling around nurseries. Many never close, but most are now open as they have plants already started. Check them out. Look for seed racks.

Jeff’s Alaska garden calendar

Forcing spring flowering bulbs: Bring yours out to the light and warmer temperatures. and water. It is time for them to grow and flower.

Valentine’s Day plants: Keep an eye out for sales. This is usually a pretty good time to find amaryllis bulbs.

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