Day 1: Coming home to Alaska, spotting the trip’s first bear

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We saw this black bear as we were getting off the tram in the Alyeska Resort near Girdwood, AK.

We spotted this black bear as we were getting off the tram in the Alyeska Resort near Girdwood, AK.

If you didn’t already know it, I’m originally from Kodiak, Alaska. Sadly, I haven’t been back to my home state in years. Feeling a little homesick for the Last Frontier, I booked a trip to see my family in Anchorage. I’ll be flying back to Portland on Sunday, but until then expect some fun Alaska posts. Anchorage isn’t quite Kodiak, but the snow-capped mountains, rocky beaches and tons of mosquitos still feel like home.

Tales from the Garden: April Showers, Forgotten Flowers

I am sure I’m not the only one guilty of planting a bulb and then six month later, when it pokes out from the ground, having absolutely no recollection of what it was. Take this little guy for instance. I bought a bag of bulbs from Costco last fall — 30 were crocuses and 15 were daffodils. The other 5 were a species I couldn’t have remembered if my life depended on it.

Top view of a fritillaria

I kept looking at the leaves thinking…hm…a lily of some kind? A few friends thought hibiscus. My husband swore they were alliums. Finally once the first flower bloomed, I showed a picture to another friend who does wedding bouquets as a side business and she figured it out.

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Things That Make Me Happy: Spring is Coming!

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Spring Crocus

The first of many….

Last fall I planted 30 spring crocus bulbs and I’ve been impatiently waiting for them to bloom. Finally Friday afternoon I noticed I had one perfect bloom in my backyard. After years of thinking that I was born with a black thumb, bulbs are becoming my redemption. For a little effort, you get a whole lot of reward!

Tales from the Garden: Sunchoke Harvest

I have never been successful in growing things that I can actually eat. My rather large strawberry patch produced one puny berry this year and in consecutive years, my husband and I killed three rosemary bushes. But my luck has changed!

This spring, a friend gave me a sunchoke plant. I was apprehensive but optimistic.
I love sunchokes and was very excited at the prospect of being able to grow my own. The best thing about these plants is that they are regenerative. Just leave some in the dirt and the next spring, another plant will grow.

At any rate — my plant took off and grew like crazy, towering over our 8-foot tall fence. I was so proud!

Once the sunflower-like flowers died, it was time to pull the plant up and see what it produced. Here’s what I found nestled in the ground:

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Tales from the Garden: The Seed Pod

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I had no idea that irises had seed pods, but they do! Mine had two this year. They start as green bulbs, but once they dry out, they turn brown. Then they split and the seeds fall out. Every year, my garden teaches me something new!

Tales from the Garden: The Stowaway

A very cheerful marigold

My grandmother is a dedicated gardener. Even though she is in her 90s, she still takes great care of her rose garden and also grows flowers from seed every spring in her greenhouse.

Since I have finally proved that I can keep plants alive, I have been allowed to take home some of her starters. This spring she gave me tiny marigolds that have since grown to a surprising degree. Even though she said they were “tall” ones, I had no idea they got that big — they are past waist-high right now.

But while I was carefully watching their progress, I noticed there was one plant that looked different from all the rest. I was sure it wasn’t a weed as I could remember my grandmother saying she had planted a variety of seeds, but I wasn’t sure what exactly it was.

Until it bloomed:

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