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Traditional garden blooms in ANMC courtyard

October 8, 2018




Much like it takes time and patience to grow any plant, it took the planning and work from many for the traditional garden in the ANMC cafeteria courtyard to blossom. After its first year of toil, the garden’s harvest brought a bounty of plants from across the state and has become an area where our patients can stroll and relax as they recover.

The idea for a traditional garden was first planted when ANTHC leadership envisioned a space where traditional plants could flourish. The Consortium wanted to bring the Store Outside Your Door concept onto campus to give visiting patients a taste of home.

Beginning in May 2018, installation was rooted in the first of four phases. Volunteers began working on the garden, planting and transplanting in the spring. The space is divided into three areas: Tundra Garden, Bog Garden and Birch Forest Garden.

Alaska Pacific University student Kelly Ballantyne completed a proposal to install Alaska Native plants in the courtyard as a part of his senior project. He did research to identify the plants that would be most appropriate for the location and came up with a blueprint and installation plan. Ballantyne and Kelly Simon with ANMC Hospital Facilities and Engineering purchased a few commercially produced Alaskan plants and trees, such as birch trees and currant bushes, along with weed cloth, compost and bark to get the garden growing.

Once the traditional garden was built, ANTHC’s Health Promotion program staff assisted with harvest of the traditional plants that can be found in various regions around Alaska.

“It was such a group effort with many for the actual planting,” said Marcia Anderson, MS, RDN, ANTHC Health Promotion Manager. “We harvested many of the wild plants this spring and summer, and with many others toiled, tilled, and planted away to get them into the garden.”

ANMC Food and Nutrition Services took good care of the volunteers with cool drinks, sandwiches and snacks as they worked. The ANMC grounds crew water and help maintain the garden during the growing season.

“It really was a group effort to bring the garden to life,” said Cynthia Davis, ANMC Food and Nutrition Services General Manager. “The traditional garden will be a place for all our visitors to enjoy and learn about plants that are native to Alaska for years to come.”

The garden’s next phase will include creating signage to identify the various plants.

Alaskan plants that grow in the garden include:

Tundra Garden

  • Soap Berry
  • Service Berry
  • Yarrow
  • Wild Rhubarb
  • High Bush Cranberry

Bog Garden

  • Blueberries
  • Labrador Tea (or Tundra Tea)
  • Wild Chives
  • Chocolate Lily

Birch Forest Garden

  • Field Mint
  • Paper Birch
  • High Bush Cranberry
  • Wild Rose
  • Red Currant
  • Moss Log

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