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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? <3
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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
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