The Anchorage Heritage Garden at the Alaska Botanical Garden seen mid summer in full bloom.
It is a combination of edibles and cutting flowers.
While Alaska Botanical Garden raises funds to build a permanent greenhouse, the services of local growers is invaluable. With grants from the Anchorage Centennial Committee, Rasmuson Foundation, and the Alaska Humanities Forum, ABG was able to provide seed to local horticulture operations with proper facilities to start plants. These grants provided great economic opportunities for these locally owned growers keeping funds in the state. Additionally, growing locally eliminated the need to ship plant materials from outside thus conserving resources. ABG extends heartfelt thanks to these family operations and to the foundations that invested in this celebration of gardening history in Anchorage. If you are not familiar with plant resources in south central Alaska, following are descriptions of nurseries that started plants for the Heritage Garden.
One of the two multi-level greenhouses at Forget Me Not Nursery in Indian, Alaska. Courtney and Brandon Ruckel.
Reaching down to Indian, Alaska where the sun shines bright on a south facing greenhouse, Alaska Botanical Garden has a passionate friend in Forget Me Not Nursery. Owned and operated by Courtney and Brandon Ruckel, Forget Me Not has put Courtney’s Master Gardener skills to the ultimate test! Thankfully, she has a dedicated supporter in her husband Brandon who manages the facilities, watering systems, and rotation of plants from upper level to lower. No challenge is too extravagant for Brandon, having grown up in Alaska, he has worked in every outdoor field the state has to offer. The Ruckel’s bought Forget Me Not in 2012 and have been just as passionate as the previous owners. The greenhouses are always bursting with color and hardy perennials spill out all over the property. Courtney inquisitively tests many of the plants they offer for sale in their own gardens. Courtney and Brandon are raising their family in the home adjacent to the greenhouses, giving their sons amazing learning experiences and staying close to the work they love. Forget Me Not grew vegetables and flowers for the Anchorage Heritage Garden in 2014 and 2105. Additionally they support ABG with plant donations and will be starting plants for ABG again in 2016. Forget Me Not Nursery is open to the public April through August, in winter by appointment, and their lovely spaces are available for wedding and party rentals.
Forget Me Not Nursery
480 Indian Road
Indian, AK 99540
Retail nursery, event rental space
Brandy and Jason Coe in the Anchorage Heritage Garden at the Alaska Botanical Garden
180 degrees from the Turnagain Arm, all the way up the north end of the valley, Coba’s Plant Care and nursery in Wasilla can be found experimenting in the greenhouses with attempts to extend their growing season. Owners Jason and Brandy Coe have found the perfect mix of temperature, soil, and love to produce some incredibly large and healthy bedding plants. A lifelong Alaskan, Brandy, knew just the right location to settle. Jason began his plant career working on an herb farm. He transitioned to working with interior and exterior plants in Alaska, and subsequently started his own business. Hands on education and success over the years has led Coba’s Plant Care to expand from one 12 x 6 greenhouse to maxing out a 1.4 acre lot with multiple greenhouses and their home. Their growing space is so prolific, Jason upgraded the size of his box truck this year for deliveries! In addition to growing annuals, Jason fills his greenhouses with food plants for his family, even growing corn! This is an important reason why he grows all of his plants with organic methods. He and Brandy start many of the plants from seed, if starts have to be brought in, they make sure those were organically grown as well. The operation is a family affair, including their children and grandparents. Coba grew plants for the Anchorage Heritage Garden in 2014 and 2015. When we asked Jason to set aside more table space for ABG this year, he did not hesitate. He and Brandy actually enjoyed working with the seed provided by ABG, some varieties were new to them. COBA’s annuals can be found at Alaska Mill and Feed. Coba’s Plant Care also offers commercial and residential garden installation and maintenance and interior plant service.
Coba’s Plant Care
Wasilla, AK 99654
Wholesale, professional landscape services
Carmen with her flowers in May and tomatoes in August at the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market
In the middle of the two extremes, Carmen Moldovan took over the business Northern Flowers in downtown Anchorage several years ago. Prior to that, she performed landscape installation. With this experience, Carmen knows how to grow the plants and where they are best planted. She grows thousands of bedding plants, hundreds of hanging baskets, and hundreds of dahlias. She operates her greenhouses by herself, sometimes with an assistant. In the winter, Carmen takes a deserved break to visit her home country of Romania. Anchorage is lucky to have an international nurserywoman in town! Northern Flowers’ structures are heated with burners that recycle spent deep fryer oil. Walking into her greenhouse, one is hit with a confusion of aromas, not knowing whether to be hungry or stop and smell the pansies! Plants from Northern Flowers can be found at Alaska Mill and Feed. She also sells bodacious blooming baskets and dahlias at the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market. Not content to complete the growing season early, Carmen puts her greenhouses to good use through the entire summer. After bedding plants are sold out, she raises heirloom tomatoes. The fruits of her labor are available at the South Market as well. As a tomato lover, this gardener appreciates her efforts and the delicious offerings. Congratulations to Carmen, she too has expanded her growing space this year.
Retail hanging baskets, dahlias and heirloom tomatoes at the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market
Beautiful hanging baskets and all kinds of starts in the greenhouses of Sutton’s
Also in the middle of Anchorage-for over 50 years-Sutton’s Greenhouses charm the now bustling 5 lane Tudor Road. Five generations of gardeners have been growing plants in this location now operated by Anna and Patty. Sutton’s is not just a nursery and greenhouse, it is a full service garden center. In addition to plants, seeds and bulbs; all growing products can be found- bagged soil, beneficial insects, even worms for composting or amending your garden beds. Sutton’s offers a variety of plant sizes from plugs to pots to bare roots, topiaries, and potted whimsies. Everything from house plants to vegetables to seed potatoes cover every inch of table and ground on the property. Anna and Patty love experimenting with plants as well as garden décor. Sometimes leaf print stepping stones can be found, sometimes bromeliad ‘octopus’ planters can be found. After 50 years of business in one location, the greenhouses are an Exploratorium. Sutton’s is truly an Anchorage landmark and any gardener in town or passing through should visit. Anna and Patty are avid supporters of ABG offering growing services at a discount and routinely donating plants. Sutton’s grew starter plants for the Anchorage Heritage Garden in 2014 and 2015 and we look forward to their plant starts in 2016. Summer visitors enjoy the ‘moose’ topiary on display in our Plaza Garden assembled by Patty. The greenhouses open every year on March 1, Monday to Saturday. We encourage you to keep them on your plant shopping list when spring rolls around.
Sutton’s Brown Thumb Nursery and Greenhouse
2845 E. Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99507
Full service retail garden center
also found on facebook
Family owned and operated for 50 years
The Mann Leiser memorial greenhouses are in east Anchorage off DeBarr Road.
Set on a quiet east Anchorage hill is the bustling Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouses in Russian Jack Springs Park. Here, Stephen Gray, Working Foreman of Horticulture for the Municipality of Anchorage, directs the production of thousands of plants each year. The annuals, veggies, herbs, and hanging baskets are planted and displayed all through Anchorage to the delight of millions of visitors each summer. Today the Memorial Greenhouses grow more than 76,000 annual flowers in six production greenhouses. Horticulture Supervisor Sandy Potvin oversees a staff of 5 permanent employees which is augmented with seasonal employees in the winter and a larger staff in the summer. Ms. Potvin supervises landscape, irrigation, and turf care in addition to the greenhouses. Mr. Gray and the greenhouse staff typically grow herbs and vegetable plants for the Alaska Botanical Garden. The plants are started early in the year from seed. By time ABG staff pick the plants up in May, the pots runneth over! There are rarely failures since the Horticulture Department has been in operation for nearly 50 years. This has given the department enough time to learn plant varieties that perform well here. The greenhouses are named after Mann Leiser. Mr. Leiser built a commercial growing operation near Muldoon and DeBarr in 1969. In its prime, Mann Leiser’s Alaska Greenhouse was a popular ‘park’ for east Anchorage residents. Fish and ducks were a big attraction in Chester Creek next to his nursery stock. His son carried on the business until 2004. Today the Leiser family property is part of the Muldoon Town Square Park redevelopment. The essence of Mr. Leiser’s dedication to growing can be enjoyed at the Memorial Greenhouses facility in the same neighborhood. The topical greenhouse is open to the public year-round. An aviary and fish pond within evoke the feeling of the Alaska Greenhouse business and home.
Horticulture Complex and the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse
1321 Lidia Selkregg Lane
The Tropical Greenhouse is open for public viewing 8 am – 3 pm daily
A short video story by KTUU can be seen here:
The vintage pick up truck loaded with cabbages is part of the installation of the Anchorage Heritage Garden.
The truck is inspired by a historic photo of a truck headed to market full of cabbage heads.
Please consider all of these nurseries when planning your growing season and gardens. Each of these businesses generously support Alaska Botanical Garden’s mission to educate the public through donated and discounted items. As we continue to raise funds to build a permanent greenhouse, we could not create the Anchorage Heritage Garden without these valuable resources and the foundations listed below.