Garden Photo of the Day

Jeri’s garden in Alaska

Quiet spot for the birds. I hang stained glass windows to break up the fence. To hide utility boxes, I build cedar surrounds that can be lifted off for easy access. Don't see them? They're behind the white birch trees--they have aged to a gray that blends with the fence.
Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Jeri Walters

Today’s photos are from Jeri Walters in Anchorage, Alaska. Who knew there were so many gardens/gardeners in Alaska? So exciting!

Here’s what the flat lot looked like as I began to build up berms to the boulders.

Jeri says, “This is my garden in USDA Hardiness Zone 3 in Anchorage, Alaska that began in 1997. I was lucky that when the house was being built they came upon a huge glacier boulder that needed to be removed for the house foundation.

What summer will bring…

“It was a win-win for the contractor and me. He didn’t have to haul it away, and after he blasted the rock into various sizes, I had the rock as the foundation and inspiration for my garden.”

Here is the garden as it has filled in over the years. Early first snow this year caught me off-guard as I hadn’t cut back and put the garden to bed (mulch is a must for Zone 3 or you’ll worry all winter long).

It’s all so great, Jeri, but I am especially in love with that painted gate and the grates in the ground!

I create privacy around the deck with cotoneaster shrubs and other perennial plantings. Tuck in a statute on a pillar as a focal point like this cat statue (hidden by the peony) who surveys the back garden.

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Abby Cat takes in the view while relaxing on the deck.
Shade area planted with native ferns, ‘Northern Rosy Lights, azalea’ dwarf columbine, and a chartreuse grass.
Here’s my solution for a well travelled shade area. Remove the grass that died anyway and place metal grates with various ground covers (moss, ajuga, yellow stonecrop sedum and gold moneywort) that will knit together. Some of these may be invasive depending on your zone.

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  1. wGardens 04/17/2014

    Nice to see a zone 3 garden. Well done! What is the tree with the leaves in the upper foreground in the first picture?
    I especially like the photo with the dwarf columbine.

    A clever solution to your shade area path.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/17/2014

    Count me also as a big fan of your well traveled pathway solution...I love your novel use of the grates. Your backyard certainly strikes a chord as being an additional room for your home ...what with artwork hanging on the walls and so much privacy. Forgive my ignorance, Jeri, but when does spring typically arrive for your zone 3 (brrr) area?
    And the picture with the open gate shows you are a lady after my own heart since you were not willing to cut down the tree that has the interesting lean coming out of your fence line.

  3. grannieannie1 04/17/2014

    Yes, to above, and it is always so interesting to see a before and after picture of a gardening process to see what problems one has faced. The fencing gives such a feeling of safety and enclosure to your garden, as well as a place for artwork. Lovely!

    I've read that flower color is more intense in Alaska due to longer days and produces larger sized vegetables, so Zone 3 isn't all bad!

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/17/2014

    Gotta love a hardy garden with boulders and stained glass windows!

  5. jagardener 04/17/2014

    Zone 3 seems to have more advantages than we have come to expect/ believe and you used them all. Love your gate and use of grate and garden ornaments.

  6. greengenes 04/17/2014

    Good morning to all of you happy gardeners! Well this is a welcome surprise this morning, to see more gardens from Alaska. Jeri, Iam so glad for you to be able to grow peonies! What a wonderful way to get boulders, too. Here I have to buy rocks from the landscape business and they aren't cheap... They add such a nice foundation. Well I just want to wish you a great spring and summer of gardening! Thanks for sharing your place with us!

  7. User avater
    gringopeligroso 04/17/2014

    Just that a domestic cat in the summer shot, or is that a young CAT from the wilde come to visit? Doin' a double-take, here!!
    Love Rocks/rockwork in my gardens, too. Nice "windfall" for ya!!

  8. PeonyFan 04/17/2014

    Love this garden! And the cat! But what does "summer bring"? Are you talking about the lush lawn or the animal (wild? cougar? maybe just your pet but I am intrigued).

  9. GrannyMay 04/17/2014

    What a lovely private garden you have created Jeri! That before picture was quite daunting, but you have overcome the challenges beautifully. The deck is a wonderful retreat! I can see why cats (domestic, concrete or wild?) and birds would want to come to visit you there.

    I don't know why it should surprise me to see plants that I grow being used in Zone 3, but it does. I now know I can stop worrying about those when we have colder than usual days! Thanks for sharing!

  10. GrannyMay 04/17/2014

    I forgot to say I too love the grates and groundcovers at the gate. And my vote would be that the cat in the middle of the lush lawn is a domestic one, not a young cougar. More photos please, Jeri!

  11. wildthyme 04/17/2014

    I'm waiting to see the verdict from Jeri on "what summer will bring," but I'm voting for something wild . . . look at those haunches!

    I am so pleased to see a zone 3 garden! It gives me hope for my zone 4 struggles. Questions: what is the white flower (not the peony) in the top right photo and what is the purple daisy-like flower in the photo just below it?

    I love the painted gate. Is that an Inuit design? The grates in the ground were inspired.

    This is my kind of garden! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Stoatley 04/17/2014

    Guys, the cat is an Abyssinian (Abby Cat). Do a blow-up, and you'll see its tawny fur.

  13. CTpat 04/17/2014

    I think Abby Cat is the one on the deck. The one strolling through the back yard looks like a mountain lion to me. I always smile at people deliberately wanting rocks in their gardens, but we don't have a choice here in Connecticut. Probably if I had no rocks instead of too many I'd want some, too.

    Great garden. I'm also curious about how long your growing season is(n't). Everything must really take off when the daylight goes on overdrive.

  14. tractor1 04/17/2014

    Jeri, your garden rocks! I always like a garden that meets with a cat's approval. Lovely gate... is it painted with a native Alaskan totem of sorts, very interesting. Those grates are interesting too, and I bet they serve double duty, good to wipe muddy boots also. I love your wintry scene, nice composition. Thank you for sharing Jeri, and please send more photos.

  15. briandowns 04/17/2014

    You had me at hello. That is Alaska? Very cool. Oops, didn't mean that as a pun. Texture/composition/color/whimsy/mystery.
    And, I am a big fan of fences- they tell you where the garden is and are a great backdrop. Now , suddenly, I crave some Baked Alaska...

  16. cwheat000 04/18/2014

    Alaska looks wonderful in the summer. Zone 3 sounds scary for the winter. Your lovely garden and other recent Alaska gardens, are putting Alaska on my bucket list.

  17. jlwalters 04/18/2014

    Thanks for the comments. Growing season is roughly May to September...and yes the long days help out a great deal. Memorial Day
    is when it is usually safe to plant annuals. The design on the gate is a lotus flower and was painted by my mother Mattie a talented artist. Stoatley is right, the roving "wild" cat is an abyssinian who is closely supervised when allowed outdoors. The tree in the foreground is an Amur Maple which has spectacular red foliage in the fall. The white perennial is Phlox 'David' and the purple daisy is an annual that I've forgotten the name of. Meander1 thanks for noticing the Black Spruce tree I just had to save in the natural area of the garden by notching out the fence board. Inspiration for the grates comes from the NW Garden Show in Seattle.

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