Sun shines on annual Garden Tour
Sandwiched between days of rainy weather, the annual Garden Tour took place on Sunday under bright blue skies, to the delight of the 18 garden tour participants.
Master gardener Cheryl Thompson, who started the annual tradition of touring Nome’s gardens about 15 years ago, led the tour once again.
The tour began at the Nome Community Garden located at the corner of Seppala Drive and Bering Street.
There, Thompson explained, the dream of a community garden came to fruition through a federal stimulus grant given to Arctic Access and volunteer work by a changing crew of volunteers.
This year, Thompson said, Amiee Glo, Dawn Ubelaker, Amanda Haushild, George Bard and Darryl Williams helped plant and take care of the greenhouse and the triangular raised bed, filled with a gigantic rhubarb plant, potatoes, lettuce and collard greens. Inside the greenhouse a giant, three-foot onion plant grows in a planter decorated with a Ford emblem. Thompson talked about the secret to gardening in Nome: it’s all in the dirt. She recommends making soil by mixing one third of tundra soil, one third sand from high up on the beach or the rivers, and one third fish peat — a combination of fish guts and peat.
The tour continued on to Janet Brower’s greenhouse at the Methodist Church.
Brower, with the help of Boys and Girls Club kids, had planted a mix of flowers including baby snapdragons outside and gladiola, lettuce and tomatoes inside the greenhouse.
The next stop was Karen Olanna’s yard, where one could admire large larch, pine and cottonwood trees that have been transplanted here from other regions.
At the Fagerstrom’s place, a zen rock garden was adorned with rusty pieces of mining equipment turned into art. A few large poplar trees, aka cottonwood trees, were the center of an island of flowers and more art. A marine mammal bone arched in front of a neatly arranged collection of heart and “hole” rocks.
Thompson explained that a good way to propagate poplar trees is not by trying to dig up trees and tangle with their lateral root system, but to cut branches and soak them in water or a watery peat mix and let them grow roots.
Next on the tour schedule was Dan and Abby Bachelder’s garden that could be described as a veritable farm in the middle of Nome. Raised beds built out of driftwood and pallets held lettuce, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Their garden had rows of potatoes, cabbages and a beautiful plant called Romanesco broccoli, also known as Roman cauliflower, which is an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. Flower beds with bright yellow calendula and sunflowers contrasted with a green lawn. In an aviary, chickens sounded alarm due to the many intruders and the Bachelder farm is complete with three goats that were housed due to their owners’ absence, in the garage.
The bus then toured Nome’s east end before heading outside to Martinsonville where Kim Knudsen and her family showed off their green thumbs, then went on to the UAF garden and greenhouse at the highschool, before turning back to Icy View, where Mitch Erikson showed off his greenhouse corn and a giant sunflower, and Pat Callahan showed exotic trees such as a lilac, a Rose-tree of China and a maple tree. The garden tour then finished up at Angela Hansen’s secret garden in Icy View, where the traditional potluck ended an afternoon’s worth of gardening inspiration and beauty that can be found in Nome’s backyards.