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Planting the seeds of the summer

Published: Jan. 31, 2021 at 7:59 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It may still be icy outside, but the Municipality of Anchorage horticulture team is hard at work preparing for summer blooms. By the time June rolls around, the streets of Anchorage will be bursting with colorful flowers under the summer sun.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we grow them all from seed, and we’re growing between 57,000 to about 62,000 this year, and that’s for all of our beds, all of our baskets and volunteer beds,” said Municipal Horticulturist, Sandy Potvin.

The muni’s horticultural team works year-round at the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse planning and preparing for summer flowers around Anchorage.

“We started in December. We started seeding perennials and things like that, and then we go into our basket begonias. We’ll be seeding all the way through the end of March, early April, and then all of these get transplanted up and we grow them on to mature plants that we plant in the flower beds,” said Potvin.

By the end of May, most of the little seedlings and sprouts currently taking over the muni greenhouses will make their way to the more than 461 flower beds at 81 sites around Anchorage to be enjoyed by residents and tourists alike.

“It’s fun, and it’s neat because you don’t have the same color palette everywhere because everybody has different preferences,” said Potvin. “They have to take into consideration the different environments that their beds are in, so you always have a mix of different colors. We do not coordinate and do a whole color scheme for the city. It just depends on the designer.”

Potvin says it’s a rewarding sight after months of hard work. “I absolutely love it. I love doing this and seeing how much pleasure it brings people, and just to see how flowers and everything can grow up here,” she said. “They get really really big. We get vivid colors because our sun isn’t that harsh.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to be summer to to enjoy the beauty of the municipal greenhouse. There’s a tropical greenhouse with a fish pond and aviary open to public seven days a week.

“It’s really a very calming place,” said Potvin. “It’s a really nice place for people to just come sit and read a book.”

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