History & Development of the Garden

Perennial South-Perennial North, 2005Photo by Barbara Miller

Lower Perennial Garden, 2005 Photo by Barbara Miller

Planning for the Alaska Botanical Garden began in 1983 as members of the Alaska  Horticultural Association considered the creation of an arboretum, and the idea grew. The organization was incorporated as an Alaskan non-profit in 1986, and began the process of developing a Master Plan to guide the creation of gardens and infrastructure elements.  In 1990, ABG signed a land use agreement with the Municipality of Anchorage, followed by another long-term lease with the Municipality for additional adjacent acreage in 2003. The first gardens were planted and the Grand Opening took place on July 25, 1993.

Today, the Alaska Botanical Garden occupies about 110 acres between the Far North  Bicentennial Park and Benny Benson School.  Much of the land will remain in a natural  state, with individual “gardens-within-the-Garden” interconnected by trails through the  boreal forest.  The Garden now has two hardy perennial gardens (Lile’s Garden and the Lower Perennial Garden), an Herb Garden, Anchorage Heritage Garden, Trailside Gardens, alpine Rock Garden, an entry shade garden, an Alaskan Kitchen Garden exhibit, a Wildflower Trail, Junior Master Gardener Plot, Research & Development site, Forest Health Trail and Lowenfels-Hoersting Family Nature Trail. In 2014, the Anchorage Heritage Garden exhibit was added in connection with the Anchorage Centennial Celebration.

Once used by the Athabascan people, the ABG land has been under the federal, then state, and finally municipal administration.  During the 1940s and 1950s, the area was used for training by the US Army.  The trails in the area were a part of the “Bull Dog Trail” network that extended from Ft. Richardson to the Army Air Corps’ Campbell airstrip in what is now Far North Bicentennial Park.