Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner ( writes the blog.

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USDA program for high tunnels offered - 1/25/2010 8:08 pm

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Wildflower Garden Club offers annual scholarship - 1/21/2010 1:08 pm

Where did you find inspiration last year? - 1/19/2010 3:57 pm

Zaumseils say farewell for now - 1/18/2010 3:57 pm

A succulent garden

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A shell planter full of succulents. Photo by Fran DurnerA shell planter full of succulents. Photo by Fran DurnerI keep seeing more and more gardens around Anchorage with absolutely no grass in them. Would you say that's a trend? I like the idea of not mowing every week but I also like having a swath of grass - it's peaceful and restful for the eye.

So I made a compromise. My front yard has no grass and my backyard has a small lawn. I really like having the two and mowing is no problem, in fact, sometimes it's as therapeutic as weeding.

In the front yard, even though I don't have what anyone would consider a real rock garden, I keep introducing rock garden plants. I love succulents: sedums, saxafragas, lewisias and sempervivums. When I see a new one, I have to give it a try.

About a month ago, Master Gardeners were invited to tour Mary Nan Cunningham's garden in East Anchorage. Mary Nan doesn't have much grass, maybe a little lawn in the back yard too. But she has lots of interesting succulents that were used in creative ways.

A grouping of succulents in shell planters. Photo by Fran DurnerA grouping of succulents in shell planters. Photo by Fran DurnerPlanters in the shape of oversized hermit crab shells were tucked full of succulents that spilled out as if the crab was turned on it's back and it's little legs were wiggling in the air. Another set of shells looked as if you were viewing exotic underwater sea-plants.

Photo by Fran DurnerPhoto by Fran DurnerAnd finally, a little topiary cat stuffed with sempervivums, sat by a bench in the front garden as if it were surveying it's kingdom. I loved the effect.

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