Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Civic Pride: Town Square edition

begonias, pansies, and impatiens

Recently my out-of-state relatives were in Anchorage enjoying the warm weather, and possibly my company, but this is debatable. One of the things that non-Alaskans seem interested, nay, obsessed about are the plethora of giant things around here. I include bears, political egos, and vegetables in this category. So naturally I took the opportunity to show off our city-maintained plantings in Town Square (544 W. 5th Avenue) which usually feature giant kale or obese cabbages. That is if the homeless don’t get them first.

(True story sidebar: My sister, in a previous life, worked in the Town Square gardens, planting, weeding, and watering for our city. She said, besides being threatened by the occasional bum, she found used drug needles, human excrement, and once, a copulating couple in the plantings. Replacing the kale or cabbage due to human poaching was both expected and planned. If they ran out of spare cabbages, they just replaced them with something else. Gotta love downtown, eh?)

dark themed border including dahlias, scabiosa, pelargoniums

Civic pride seems strong downtown (just step over those drug needles, would you?) but lessens with each step southward, and by the time you hit 15th Avenue and head down Minnesota past the “flower picture” in the hill you’ve pretty much seen the last of it, with a few exceptions. So take this review as the somewhat jealous observations of a resident of south (unbeautified on the public dime) Anchorage.

fountain planting including artichokes and petunias


Town Square is the hub of the floral explosion and it radiates out from there. There is a fountain in the middle of the square and if one can but avoid the skate boarders, panhandlers, and idiots stopping suddenly to take photos (oh, wait, that was me….), it is a lovely place for snapping a picture, consulting a map, or checking to see if you still have all your shopping bags/children. Each bed seems to have a color theme of it’s own. This year I noticed a yellow theme, white theme, pink theme, dark red theme, and rounding them all out, a dahlia bed with no color theme I could discern.

yellow theme

white theme with begonias, delphiniums, kale, blue poppies, foxgloves, salvia, pansies, and a bunch of other stuff I forgot

pink border with delphiniums, pelargoniums, snapdragons, salvia, foxgloves

dahlias, pelargoniums, impatiens, pansies, scabiosa, etc.

Now some pictures of the dahlia border. My legal team tells me I must disclose the fact that I have two dahlias in my own garden. They encourage me to state this means I am neither a “hater” nor a “dahlia nut.” Their words, not mine.

I believe this is Dahlia 'Bodacious' with cosmos in the background dahlia border dahlia border dahlia border

dahlia border, with cosmos white dahlia, with Last Frontier hand for scale

OK, enough of the Town Square dahlias. For additional flower sightings, head to the visitor information log cabin. If you aren’t sure which log cabin it is, it’s the one with the sod roof, and this summer, the sod is crispy. So head north from Town Square until you find a shack with dead grass on the roof and you’re there (546 W. 4th Avenue).

rear view of visitors information cabin visitors checking out droopy fuchsia baskets outside the visitor information cabin visitor's information cabin garden, including pelargoniums, salvia, begonias, snapdragons, and two tired tourists

visitor's information cabin, front view

For those visitors inclined to censure, I feel I must mention the reason we have hanging baskets of blue lobelia with a white eye and yellow marigolds every year without fail: they are the colors of our state flag. “Eight stars of gold on a field of blue….” Thus begins our state flag song. Does this excuse rampant marigold and lobelia use? The jury is still out.

marigold and lobelia baskets, ad infinitum more lobelia baskets and a fun nasturtium bucket with begonias and a spiky thingwhy do I love nasturtiums so much?

There were still some intact cabbages as of this writing, so gather the kinsfolk and head downtown. Just find Town Square and you and yours will get an eye full, and see a lot of flowers, too. If the cabbages run out, you’ll have to wait until the Alaska State Fair starts on August 22nd. See my coverage of that here.


How do you show off your area to visitors?

don't let this keep you from visiting!


  1. I'm still baffled by the fact that Anchorage has homeless people. Maybe it's a seasonal thing. Or maybe they hibernate in snow caves during the winter?

    Nice flower photos. I guess they'd have to grow annuals since the selection of hardy perennials is extremely limited. I wonder if they spray them with moose repellent. Or maybe I'm showing my ignorance. :)

    1. Hello there Miss Grace!

      In the last ten years the homeless population here has exploded. Or at least the street corner panhandling contingent. Alaska usually leads the pack in the U.S. as far as alcohol-related social ills, which has a great deal to do with the homeless situation. There are shelters for them in the winter but some camp out and every year there are deaths from exposure.

      The Town Square perennials seem to be limited to delphiniums, but maybe I blinked and missed something else.


  2. Those are some very vibrant plantings! I love the giant dahlias, discernable color scheme or not. Then again, perhaps that is my non-Alaskan fascination with giant things coming through.

    1. I love me a big dahlia as well. I have a bright orange one in a bright blue pot and a bright pink one in another bright blue pot. Not very subtle, I fear.


  3. Replies
    1. Hi Sue!

      Lovely, especially since I don't have to care for them all. I can't imagine all the grooming that must be done for the dahlia bed. Oh well, ignorance is bliss.


  4. your photos are absolutely gorgeous!Greetings from Polish.

  5. those are some seriously big dahlias. Whatever it is they're giving the dahlias they should have given to that sod...


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