Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening in Alaska, Part 1

Snow, moose, and beautiful flowers!

a lush garden bed with flowers and shrubs

Today we’re headed to chilly Fairbanks, Alaska, to visit with Susie Zimmerman.

Here are a few shots of my garden. I’ve been at it for about 40 years (with a good deal of help from my husband, lovingly referred to as “the Undergardener”), whose main job was to build the house.

beginning of a house in Alaska being builtWhere it all started, circa 1983–1987

beginning of garden in Alaska that is mainly lawnMore early beginnings of the garden—just a bit of lawn and some flowers

aerial view of unique house and large garden in AlaskaThis aerial view shows how the house and gardens look now. What a cool house, and it is clear that there is a LOT of gardening going on down there.

a lush garden bed with flowers and shrubsAlaskan summers may be short, but the cool temperatures and long days mean everything grows incredibly lush.

garden in fall with trees and shrubs with fall colorIn the fall, beautiful leaves changing color dominate the garden.

home and landscape covered in snow in winterJust a little snow in the winter—still beautiful, though!

garden arbor surrounded by flowers in summerBut when all that snow melts, a beautiful garden emerges, filled with flowers.

close up of canna and black-eyed Susan flowerHot colors come from a canna (Canna hybrid, Zones 8–11 or as a tender bulb) and a black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta, Zones 3–7).

two moose visiting a small garden pondYou think deer are bad. Susie has MOOSE! She has a love-hate relationship with the frequent moose visitors. They are entertaining but can be quite destructive as well.

Susie sent so many wonderful photos that we’ll be back tomorrow with more from this beautiful garden!


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 05/01/2023

    What a thrill to see what a garden in Alaska looks like! Just fantastic. I cannot wait for the next segment tomorrow of the gardener and the undergardener.

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 05/01/2023

      What Sandy said!
      Thank you for sharing your Alaska garden, Susie!

  2. MohawkValley 05/01/2023

    Very nice ! I'm sure Bullwinkle agrees ! What a wild place , pun intended ...
    Peace from the Mohawk Valley in central NYS .

  3. islandlover 05/01/2023

    I will try to refrain from complaining about the deer here in Massachusetts! I visited Fairbanks in the summer of 2021 and agree the flowers and foliage is beautiful and lush. Thank you for sharing and I would love to visit your garden. Can’t wait till tomorrow!

  4. Oxdriftgardener 05/01/2023

    Thank you for posting Susie. It's great to see a post from a gardener/undergardener who faces even tougher challenges than us. What zone is Alaska anyways?
    Seeing the moose picture brought back memories of a funny story that happened in our Zone 3 garden many years ago. Moose are plentiful nearby but in the immediate farming district where we live deer are the pest. One night about this time of the year when I was making frequent trips to the greenhouse in the dark to stoke up the wood stove, I came face to face with a rare moose. We each startled each other but I was more vocal. The moose went charging splash splash right through my pond then crashed into the horse fence behind it. What a commotion! Needless to say the pond liner needed to be replaced.
    Looking forward to your sequel tomorrow.

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 05/01/2023

      Descriptive gardening story - the moose interface must have been scary.

    2. SusieZ 05/04/2023

      Oh my goodness, Fairbanks hardiness zones are listed as anywhere from 1b to 4b! Classic case of Invasion of the Microclimate. I have gardening friends who are serious zone-pushers, experimenting with things (some rhododendrons, for example) listed as Zone 5. I mostly judge a Zone 3 rating as a good bet, I push it sometimes? Yes? And are some things that absolutely shouldn't grow here in fact very hardy? Yup. A couple of moose got many hooves into the pond repeatedly last spring, requiring a total dismantling and re-lining...Bless the Undergardener's heart (and strong back). So glad you enjoyed my post.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 05/01/2023

    Such an eye opening post!
    What a cool world you and your husband have created- the amazing house & amazing garden it sits in.
    And I never would have guessed it was all happening in Alaska!
    I just love the two moose photo at the!
    And that gorgeous Delphinium standing tall and no stakes- totally amazing (mine all ways fall over LOL!)

    1. SusieZ 05/04/2023

      Oh sure, my delphiniums never fall over in a heavy rain (oh yes they do, despite my best efforts). My good friend and mentor Les Brake chides me, "They're not supposed to be ground cover, you know..."

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/01/2023

    Really beautiful!

  7. btucker9675 05/01/2023

    Wow - gardens and house - just WOW!!! Fabulous!

  8. sheila_schultz 05/01/2023

    I'm not sure if I should say Wow! or Fun! but I think both are appropriate for both your delightful home and lush gardens! I'm so eager for tomorrow's photos. Alaska is so magnificent to visit and my jaw has dropped both times we were there at the size of the trees and foliage.

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