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See the unexpected uniqueness of Ann’s Greenhouse

fashion over 40 woman in top and skirt
Plant nursery entrance in Goldstream Valley
Entrance area with only two charts available. This means it was quite busy.

When you enter the Goldstream Valley via Sheep Creeks Road you pass by Ann’s Green House. It is located between two railroad crossings of the same railroad track. Due to the mountains the railroad and highway to Anchorage both go north first. You can’t miss it. The greenhouses are a bit elevated in the valley and visible from far from both directions and there is a large not shaded parking lot in front of it.

business in Goldstream Valley
View from the end of the parking lot (foreground) onto Ann’s Greenhouse area (middle ground). In the background the mountains of the northern part of the Goldstream Valley are seen.

Ann is a woman in her high eighties from Frankfurt, Germany. She married an American and they settled down in Alaska. Here they built a plant nursery and raised their children. Each May/June many Fairbanksans buy their plants and flowers from Ann’s Greenhouse. It would be a year to remember when you go to Ann’s place and wouldn’t meet at least one person you know.

mature woman in a greenhouse with chart
Garden vegetable seedling greenhouse and me pulling a chart

Each year, we buy our annual flowers there as well as cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, leech, tomato and Swiss chard seedlings. We got all our rhubarb plants and gooseberry bushes from Ann’s.

mature woman with flowers
Me choosing flowers for our front yard and deck. Shein abstract print top, Oliveo leather skirt, Michael Kors plateau sandals (all own) and scarf c/o Uno Alla Volta

Ann’s Greenhouse is quite different from places where you buy your plants in Europe or the Lower 48. There is not one large facility where all plants are on display. On the contrary, the plants are in various different greenhouses. These greenhouses are built over a large area of land with quite some space in between. There are no paved walkways in the greenhouses nor outside. There are some greenhouses that have several stair steps inside. The greenhouses are also at different height above sea level. This means you have to walk up and down slight slopes.

apple trees
View onto some of the greenhouses that are built at different height above sea-level. See the slope in the middle ground. On the left are some apple trees that only grow on southern slopes at heights above the winter inversion when the owner puts in lots of efforts that they won’t freeze to death during the cold winters in the Interior. In the background are the northern slopes of the University Hills neighborhood.

At the entrance, charts exist (see second photo in this post). You take one and haul it to the greenhouses. In some of the greenhouses, you can’t enter with the chart – because of stairs or too small paths thru the greenhouse. As you see from some of the greenhouse photos it’s one way traffic in most of them too. Two charts couldn’t pass each other. Thus, people leave the chart outside (see photo above), go in and pick the plants they want. Back outside they place the plants onto the chart and move on to the next greenhouse.

ready to go flower arrangements
View into the greenhouse that has ready-to-go flower arrangements. Some of them are custom-made to order and pre-paid. They are indicated with a sign saying “SOLD.” See the small paths. Here one can’t enter with a chart.

In one of the greenhouses, plants are sold that have no chance to survive a winter in Interior Alaska, for instance these beautiful roses. They are incredibly expensive too. Nevertheless, there are people who buy them. They either have their own greenhouse or winter garden where they keep them over winter or they pack them carefully and mail them to family down in the Lower 48. Note that heating a greenhouse or winter garden is very expensive.  Of cause there are always some unaware people who just let them die.  😦 The only roses that survive the cold winters of the Interior are wild roses and Sitka roses.

beautiful flowers
View into the greenhouse with roses and other flowers. These type of roses can’t survive a winter in the Interior unless they are in a heated greenhouse or winter garden. see the “SOLD” tags on some of the plants.

Once you have everything, you go back to the entrance. There is a checkout in the first greenhouse. Here you also get house plants, seeds, potatoes, and other packed garden products. The other checkout is under a garden party tent. At checkout, all your plants get a little water so they survive their ride in your meanwhile hot car.

dirt way
View into a greenhouse to show the unpaved dirt way. The wood  palettes serve to keep the plants away from the cold ground.

I love Ann’s Greenhouse for the quality of their plants. We never had a plant that didn’t survive the planting. Note that plants imported from the Lower 48 to Alaska often die because of the unusual light conditions, large temperature variations and often too low precipitation. My favorite above all is her Majesty, the cat.

Alaskan cat
Ann’s cat occupying the cashier counter. In Alaska, most cats have long fur and long hair on the underside of their paws to keep them warm when walking on the cold soil. These hairs look often like they have distressed socks. See the hairs on the left front paw.

The cat likes to sleep in the shelves of greenhouse 1 or those under the tent. It is just a question of the outside temperature. At this years visit, we were lucky and the cat greeted as at the checkout counter in greenhouse 1. I even got to pet her. However, since the cat blocked the checkout counter, the cashier moved over to the checkout under the tent. How great is that? ❤

fashion over 40 woman in top and skirt
View towards the Murphy Dome neighborhood (background) area from the parking lot. Sheep Creek Road is seen in the middle ground. I am wearing an Oliveo leather skirt, Shein top, Michael Kors sandals (all own) and shamrock scarf c/o Uno Alla Volta

You can read more about gardening in Alaska, cutting flowers in Alaska, and the Goldstream Valley at these links.

Focus Alaska is a weekly series on Alaska lifestyle, events, curiousa, insider travel tips, Alaska shopping and street style.

Disclaimer: Note that this post is not endorsed and not sponsored by Ann’s Greenhouse. I wrote it to give my readers insight on how shopping in Interior Alaska is different than shopping in other regions of the US and the world. I wrote the post entirely myself.

Photo of me: G. Kramm

Photos of Ann’s greenhouse: N. Mölders

Copyright 2013-2017 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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