Thanks to Mayor, Assembly, Gardeners for Saving Flowers

Posted by
You don’t want to mess with volunteers who plant flowers by the truckload!  ©Jerrianne Lowther

Thank goodness for Anchorage’s master gardeners, who packed the Assembly chambers and helped inspire a deluge of e-mails that saved the downtown flowers, Anchorage Municipal Greenhouses – and about 35 jobs – from the chopping block when the Assembly voted on next year’s budget.

Since Friday, more than 400 emails had come in support of downtown flowers and public greenhouses, said Assemblyman John Weddleton. Weddleton had suggested cutting the city’s entire $1.7 million horticultural budget and shifting the money to illegal camps and shelter beds. –Anchorage Daily News

To be fair, Assemblyman Weddleton thought he was proposing a temporary cut and that volunteers could pick up the slack. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more complicated than that. Volunteer gardeners who tend flowers in numerous Anchorage parks depend on the municipal greenhouses for many of the flowers they plant and care for.

The city’s horticulture supervisor, Sandy Potvin, said she only learned of the proposals Friday morning. The largest cut would eliminate five full-time jobs and 30 seasonal employees, including her own, she said.

She also said the cut would destroy the city’s decades-old greenhouses, which are open to the public year-round. Because of their age, the heat can’t be turned off for long periods of time, she said.

“Once the facility is mothballed, it’s done,” she said. –Anchorage Daily News

Michele Pamer loads geraniums for a neighborhood park from the greenhouse. ©Jerrianne Lowther

Perhaps we’ll find a way – someday – to re-build the greenhouses next to the power station at Centennial Park and use waste heat from the power station to heat them, but for now the greenhouses at Russian Jack Springs are vital to keep Anchorage beautiful for residents and tourists each summer.

Volunteers plant flowers in containers for beautification at a park entrance. ©Jerrianne Lowther
Longtime volunteer gardeners help a new generation learn about flower care. ©Jerrianne Lowther
Not all flowers in the adopt-a-garden program come from muni greenhouses but many do. ©Jerrianne Lowther
Wave petunias, red geraniums, dusty miller in barrel, Chugach Foothills Park. ©Jerrianne Lowther