Monday, November 30, 2009

A beautiful day at Crooked Lake, Alaska

You think you have come so far as a gardener, culturing your plant palette, educating yourself on design, exposing yourself to a wide range of garden styles.  And then you look out the window on a beautiful winter's day and realize you don't know squat.  Two types of trees, a dumpy little cabin, a frozen lake, and a dash of snow against a blue-gray sky: solid design and no gardeners involved.  Humbling.


We spent a long weekend in the valley doing all those things that people do in twenty degrees.  We went cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowmachining, and built snow caves.  We drank hot cider and hot chocolate by the gallon.  And we watched Pollyanna and Star Trek (insert joke here).


Giving thanks is especially apropos this time of year.  I don't think a short list of things I am grateful for would be out of place on the blog.  Maybe some of mine will ring a bell for you, too.

  1. I am grateful for my gardening mistakes.  And for those that gently point them out.  ("Just what do mean, did I hill my potatoes up?")  How else am I going to learn? 

  2. I am grateful for quality garden tools and equiptment (Felco number 10, I love you!).  I find I injure myself less with well maintained and well designed tools, very important for a clumsy person such as myself.

  3. Technology.  Faster internet connection (I was on dial-up for years), power point presentations, blogs, online ordering, etc.

  4.  I am grateful for a wonderful gardening community, willing to share their successes, failures, and insights.  In my experience, gardeners are some of the most friendly people around.

  5. I am grateful for my family aka my gardening enablers and laborers.

  6. I am grateful for seasons: there is always something to look forward to and always something to be glad is over and done with.

  What are you grateful for?


Deborah Elliott said...

What a wonderful post! Your list could be my own. I am also thankful you shared this gorgeous Alaskan scenery with us. If we get one inch of snow this winter, that would be a major news event.

Christine B. said...

@Deborah Elliott
Glad to share the scenery, the temperature you'll just have to imagine. I only stepped out onto the balcony briefly to snap those pics: it was a cold day! I'm a life-long Alaskan and I'm still not used to the cold...kind of pathetic.

jeansgarden said...

Christine, This makes me long for the true beginning of winter here in Maine. We're still at that in-between point where we no longer enjoy fall foliage, but we don't have the wonderful snowy scenes of winter yet. I consider temperatures in the twenties perfect for cross-country skiing, something I'm hoping to do a lot of this year. -Jean

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

What beautiful scenery you have. I always dread winter but it comes anyway. I guess I should not complain about loosing my flowers to winter because gardening in Alaska must take on a whole new meaning to term gardening. Your season must be very short but it must have some very strong plants that adapt and grow that we do not have here. It will be fun watching you postings. Welcome to Blotanical also!

Christine B. said...

@Hocking Hills Gardener
Hi there HHG,

Yep, we have a pretty short season here in Anchorage. Can't complain too much though, it's light for about 18 hours a day in peak summer, so we stretch our season that way I guess. I do manage to find some tough plants but I also manage to kill off plenty of(wimpy) gorgeous ones, too. Thanks for checking out the blog.

Christine B.

Christine B. said...

Hello there in Maine!
I had a lot of fun with the X-C skis. I probably should watch a video or take a class though, I'm pretty slow going. We are at a relatively balmy 33 degrees right now.... Thanks for checking out the blog.


azplantlady said...


Isn't nature truly humbling? What a spectacular winter scene.

I think I am thankful for the ability to garden and being able to enjoy being outdoors. I am also thankful for my mistakes and that plants are so forgiving ;0)

Christine B. said...

Thanks for sharing what you're thankful for. I'm thankful for "forgiving" plants, too. Unfortunately, it seems I desire the "resentful" or sulky type plants, the ones that don't want to grow for me but that I think I need! I have a specimen of Acer maximowiczianum that has just sat there for four years...I don't think it's even grown an inch.

a tasteful garden said...

gosh, your pictures are bliss! thanks so much for stopping by my blog. i'm excited to follow your Alaskan gardening adventures... and i thought Maine was a short season place to garden :) — allison

Christine B. said...

@a tasteful garden
Glad you stopped by. I look forward to learning more from you about gardening in a cold climate at the other end/side/coast of the U.S.


Among Trees said...

Wow, it's cold where you are! Beautiful, though. Do you have ice fairies at the bottom of your garden? I'll never moan about the winter here in Africa again. :-O

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

Christine, I would say that I am grateful for everything on your list, but I am very grateful that I have a garden. For the four years preceeding our purchase of Kilbourne Grove, I was gardenless, and I hurt. I felt like I was empty. I love, love having a garden!!!
My husband would be happy to live in a condo (no maintenance, or on a sailboat), but had to give in to keep me happy.
That is some gorgeous scenery around you!

inadvertent farmer said...

That is the perfect combo winter/garden post! I miss snow so much (Western Washington gets rain, rain, and more rain) I can almost smell the hot cider! You are right about natures design...always the best (even working with a dumpy little cabin, lol!)

Thanks for visiting...I will be back again for my 'snow fix'! Kim

Christine B. said...

@Among Trees
I don't think the ice fairies would enjoy it here...maybe ice trolls? Thanks for visiting!


Christine B. said...

@Deborah at Kilbourne Grove
Hello Deborah,

Yeah, my husband would probably be fine without a garden, too. It was very satisfying for me to finally be able to have some ground to experiment with. I'm trying to convert the kids to my point of view so I guess I should let them do something other than weed, eh?


Christine B. said...

@inadvertent farmer
Hi Kim,

Send some of that rain our way: Anchorage only gets about 16 inches of precipitation a year. I guess that makes us a cold desert. I'd be glad to send the next snow storm your way, I'm already tired of shovelling the driveway and it's only December.


Teresa said...

Nature can most definitely paint a pretty picture. It's those of us that appreciate it that love to garden. I agree with your things you are thankful for. I have learned many of the same things as you from technology to gardeners who are open and willing to share info, experience and knowledge to great tools. I just got my first pair of Felco pruners. I get it! Gardenshoesonline just started selling them and lucky me I get to blog about them which invloves using them. They are great pruners for sure. I enjoyed reading your post. You live in such a picturesque place.

Christine B. said...

Hi there, Teresa,

You are a "lucky duck" as my daughter would say, to get to review Felcos! I am so jealous. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for visiting.


Rosey Pollen said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I am enjoying looking over your blog. I am not going to complain any more about the cold! You have got me beat!

Nice to "meet" you!


Christine B. said...

@Rosey Pollen
Thanks for the compliment Rosey, you have a beautiful blog, so it means a lot. I'll be reading you...


The Garden Ms. S said...

Hi Christine, I love your pics of the trees. We have a row of spruce along the back and I could stare at them - and do - every day.

Really, when I look around at the magnificence of mother nature I realize us gardeners are only dabbling :)

I'm grateful we have finally settled in a house when we plan to stay for while so that I can enjoy watching my garden grow over the long term.

Christine B. said...


Watching the garden mature is a pleasure indeed. We used to call our yard "the fish bowl" for its lack of privacy when we first moved in. Seeing the trees and shrubs fill out and give us privacy has been very rewarding. Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

The very first picture is of the cabin I rented on Crooked Lake, from Steve and Ann Kahn, in Dec. 2006. Thanks so much for the Alaska experience. I love you all. Julius Lenhart. SAZ


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