Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bumblebees to berries: GBG research happens all over the state

Georgeson Botananical Garden, on the UAF campus, in full bloom

Here at the Georgeson Botanical Garden, an amazing amount of research occurs each year, and the horticultural discoveries extend far beyond the garden’s boundaries.

For example, in the upcoming growing season, research projects scattered around the state will provide useful information for many people seeking answers to a bevy of questions. Blueberry pickers will be out in force collecting stem cuttings for propagation of plants with the best berries. Anyone interested in having a blueberry patch in their own yard or who is interested in growing our wild blueberries for their fabulous antioxidants will be interested in this research. Graduate student Tina Buxbaum will be starting a project to identify the native pollinators of wild blueberry, and will import bumblebee hives to study how they affect fruit productivity.

Graduate student Sean Willison will head north to Prudhoe Bay to see if any of the cottonsedge or water sedge seeds sown last year will sprout and provide a way for oil companies to revegetate old gravel pads.

GBG is continuing its research on peonies, helping support the new Alaska Peony Growers Association. Planting times, root size, and other aspects of growing peonies will be studied. A network of trial sites is being developed from Fairbanks to Homer and Juneau. This will help determine how peonies grow and bloom for the commercial cut flower export markets.

Of course the annual flower and perennial trials will include hundreds of varieties, and we’ll also experiment with coriander as a seed crop and study heirloom vegetables versus the modern hybrids.

I am predicting a terrific, exciting summer at the garden. Everyone is welcome to come to our plant sale on May 16. Contact us to volunteer to help or call 474-6921. To view the gardens, simply stop by from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. May through October. There is a $2 fee (children under six free). Guided tours are offered Fridays at 2 p.m. June through August.

—By Patricia S. Holloway, professor of horticulture and director of the Georgeson Botanical Garden

For further reading:
Annual flowering plant trials AFES Variety Trial 2009-01, March 2009 (PDF)

Annual Vegetable Trials AFES Variety Trial 2009-02, March 2009 (PDF)

An Introduction to Harvesting and Selling Alaska Cut Flower Peonies AFES Miscellaneous Publication 2008-03, April 2008, by James D. Auer and Patricia S. Holloway (PDF)

Managing Wild Bog Blueberry, Lingonberry, Cloudberry, and Crowberry Stands in Alaska Natural Resource Conservation Service publication, August 2006, Patricia S. Holloway contributor (PDF)

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