Quarterly Newsletter of
Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum
Winter Issue December 2021
Quarterly News and Updates
For your Winter reading enjoyment, this issue is bursting
with updates and stories...
An article to ring in the new year by JOA Manger Ginger Hudson; A message from Pat White, FJOA President; The first Primula Spotlight! By Pat Harris; "Grieving a Rock Garden," a creative writing piece by FJOA member, Helena Fagan; An announcement for the Education Coordinator Position; Public Market 2021 by Michelle Duncan; and a Volunteer Opportunity you may want to check out.
Happy New Year
from Ginger Hudson, JOA Manager
Bright blue skies and midwinter sunsets are welcome during the bitter cold of December.
I wonder if I speak for many folks when I say, “Wow, this year went by fast!”? Probably not for a majority as we collectively continued to navigate the Pandemic. Yet I am fortunate that my position requires a substantial amount of outdoor work. Local and out-ot-town visitors still graced the grounds that my staff, FJOA volunteers, and myself nurtured through a cool, damp spring with spots of warm sun. In general, I feel like most of the perennials flourished this year. Even a couple of Primula species rebounded from the previous two weather-devastated summers. Primula waltonii which did not flower in 2020 gave a healthy show this year. Primula capitata did not flower in 2020 but displayed a single bloom in the Katsura bed near the new plaque dedicated to Merrill Jensen. Snow insulates the gardens as I peruse the hundreds of photos I took this summer in hopes of finding more Primula survivors. Let’s hope this deep snow keeps the bitter cold off the grounds until spring arrives. In the meantime, I’ll be referencing photos, the existing database, and notes scribbled this year to create an updated listing of species and cultivars of primroses. JOA is a member of and donates Primula seeds to the American Primrose Society. APS members have early access to the seed catalog which contains resources from across the country. For gardeners who like to travel, I will be speaking at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival in Seattle in February addressing the topic of caring for our collections as we adapt to the changing climate. The Garden Festival is the largest of its kind on the west coast and presents fabulous educational and garden shopping opportunities. Find more information here: https://gardenshow.com/seminars/schedule/wed

While monitoring Primroses and other flowers for seed collecting potential, there were a surprising number of pollinators observed. It was enlightening to see what insects visited which flowers during JOA’s volunteer time for the Alaska Bee Atlas Survey. Bumble bees love all the berry producing plants in addition to herbs and vegetables, and even a few primroses! Bee surveys were conducted three times on the grounds of JOA this summer. The first collection was done in conjunction with training by BLM endangered species specialists Casey Burns. Local bee survey volunteers learned how to set out colored bowl traps, elevated open vane traps, and use of insect nets. I found that bees were best collected with the nets in the subsequent onsite collections. Beeloved by all, bumble bees pollinate a variety of plants that are valuable to people as food, or plants that feed our sources of animal foods. However, there are a number of other species that pollinate our gardens, and we should always be mindful that the majority of insects on our landscapes are beneficial, from wasps, to hover flies, to butterflies, and even moths. The information collected at JOA and in other SE Alaska locations this summer has been sent to Fairbanks for processing. As JOA learns more about the bees buzzing the gardens, I look forward to sharing that information with arboretum supporters and visitors.

The success of this summer’s online plant sale delivered a happy surprise. My staff and I worked hard to select and pot-up a different variety of plants nearly each week in an effort to diversify from the usual one-month-only selection. This approach grew almost too popular! Sometimes folks brought friends with them to pick up plants, which led to new sales–thank you buyers! I am appreciative to the many individuals, friends, and families that visited the arb to pick up their plants. I heard several sweet stories from adults who remembered driving out with their parents to visit Caroline and pick-up plants from her. The support, positive comments, and valuable feedback will contribute to our 2022 plant sale. I’ll give you one hint, keep an eye on the FJOA calendar, sales may be tied to events.

Some other plans and hopeful plans for the new year include more partnerships with local organizations bringing more opportunities for education at JOA. Our Devil’s Club, S’áxt’, harvesting workshop with Sealaska Heritage was the first of its kind and valuable to all involved. I hope to foster more partnerships with Sealaska Heritage and to engage other groups. I am so thrilled to be part of JOA to help celebrate its 15th Anniversary. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say I look forward to more onsite events than in the previous two years; among them the return of Primula Day. I really hope all this wonderful snow protectes our Primula, perennial, and arboreal collections and the gardens explode with vibrance and color all year. Thanks to donors, your generosity helped fund some of the plant color, and the beautiful color of the art-in-the-loo; infrastructure improvements; plant purchases; and the 2022 bulbs–nearly 300 were planted around the grounds in October! End-of-year gifts will go toward signage and beautification during JOA’s 15th anniversary year celebration in 2022.

Ginger Hudson
JOA Manager
Message from the President
I have been shoveling snow today, about a foot at our place. As I was pushing the stuff around, I was reflecting on the past year. An appropriate thing to do while shoveling and on the first day of winter.

Reflecting on the year and then planning for the next…..

The Jensen-Olson Arboretum is thriving in the time of COVID. Our visitor numbers remain steady and we have had a successful albeit very rainy summer solstice party, a warm and sunny Bug Day, and intertidal experiences. Devils Club was harvested and many pounds of vegetables were donated to AWARE, the Glory Hall, and others.

The Friends of JOA just completed another fund raising raffle, with prizes awarded on December 17th. Thank you all for buying raffle tickets. All these funds will be directed to the building of a cover over the potting area behind the garage.

Ginger Hudson is coming into her year anniversary and the Arboretum itself, will celebrate it’s 15th year in 2022. The Friends group will host a few events to mark this anniversary, beginning in May. The actual anniversary date is July 28. Stay tuned for more details.

The friends group also would like to promote volunteering at the Arboretum this next year. Highlighting physical activities like weeding and garden bed work. These would be directed by Ginger Hudson. Other activities like hosting a membership table or baking goodies for the anniversary events., and/or becoming a Docent. More information will be sent to you in the Monthly Memos.

We hope to involve as many members as possible this next summer, so think about how you might like to volunteer.

As for now, Happy New Year and see you at the Arboretum.

Pat White,
FJOA board President
Pictured above: Primula waltonii looks recovered in 2021 after suffering through and not blooming in 2020
Primula Spotlight!

To highlight the arboretum’s national primrose collection, Twigs will feature one of the more than 150 Primula cultivars in this and subsequent issues. Notes are adapted from Merrill Jensen’s “A Primula Minute”, a series of presentations he made to the Juneau Garden Club.

In this issue we feature Primula alpicola, the moonlight primrose, a native to the mountains of Tibet and Bhutan. Alpicola thrives throughout the arboretum, blooming in late May through mid-June. Varieties range in color from white (alba) to red and lavender (violacea) and all are wonderfully fragrant. P. alpicola is easily grown in rich peaty soil in partial shade and will self-seed under favorable conditions making it a good choice for beginning primrose gardeners.

Pat Harris,
FJOA board member

Primula alpicola Var. alba
Grieving a Rock Garden 

I drove past her home at least twice a day and annually marked the arrival of spring when her rock garden began to bloom. Spreading across the entire front of the lot, lining the highway with heavenly color, it banished the gray Alaska winter. An elderly couple lived in the home, but I mainly observed the woman, from early spring to late fall kneeling above her garden, bent over to reach the plants tucked into the boulders, weeding and planting.

Every time I drove by my busy mind stopped for a moment as I breathed in the delicate beauty of the shades of pink, yellow, green, and white tumbling from the rocks into the cool spring air. I looked forward to that brief moment, slowing my car, turning my head, actually feeling a bit aflutter during the height of spring. “Wake up,” the flowers shouted.

Many times, when I saw her digging weeds, her white head bent, trowel in hand, I thought about stopping. I wondered if it would startle her too much if I pulled off the highway and into her driveway. Would she be pleased or annoyed if a stranger asked for garden mentoring? Always busy, on my way to somewhere or late getting home, I never stopped (truthfully, I think I was just too shy), but oh, how I enjoyed that garden. I tried to make my tiny rock garden echo hers but had little luck calling forth such a luxury of blooms.

Two springs ago the flowers appeared as usual but not the gardener. As spring progressed into summer, weeds began to choke the flowers. They stretched tall and wide, the clean lines of the rocks disappearing into the variegated greens. “Something’s happened to her,” I said to my husband as we drove past. I wondered if she’d suffered a stroke, an illness, or perhaps even died. I never saw a surplus of cars in the wide drive, nor the kind of obvious comings and goings that accompany a death. I hoped it was an illness, one from which she would soon recover and return to her garden.

By early fall there was still no sign of her, and the garden grew scruffier. I so regretted never having stopped to chat. Had I done that, and learned her magic, I could have now offered to help maintain her garden. I felt a grief that didn’t quite make sense.

“She must be dead,” said my husband as we drove by in his truck. “If she were still in there, that garden wouldn’t look like that.” I had a vision of her, weak on the couch, directing her husband or perhaps phantom grandchildren, pulling weeds, making space for the flowers to grow.

By the next spring I had to agree. She must be dead. The garden was losing its shape. Flowers still bloomed, but the breathtaking beauty had vanished, the waves of color diminished to a muddled puddle here and there.

Meanwhile, I had finally discovered that my favorite flowers in her garden were saxifrages. I planted some in the small rock garden that lines our driveway and they miraculously bloomed last spring. Each time I came and went, I smiled at the small clusters of fuchsia blooms. They comforted me in a way that matched my unreasonable grief.

There was something soothing about seeing her there spring after spring, working in that garden, coaxing such beauty out of rocky nooks. I felt kindness, gentleness, and patience reflected in the ethereal splendor she created. I’m not sure if I grieve for the beauty, the woman, or perhaps my lack of initiative. Maybe it is just the poignancy of the impermanence we all face, flowers and humans alike, that gives me pause day after day as I pass the ramshackle remnant of garden.

Helena Fagan
FJOA Member
Aconitum, monkshood, adds to the fall color scheme.
We are Hiring!

FJOA is looking for a creative part-time education coordinator to organize several events geared towards elementary-aged children and their families. Programs in the past have included art projects, beach exploration, and the ever-popular Bug Day. We are searching within our membership first because you are familiar with the arboretum and are a fan. If you want more information, please contact us friendsjoa@gmail.com, with “education coordinator” in the subject header.

Pat Harris,
FJOA board member
Public Market 2021

This year the Public Market was back in full swing! FJOA was lucky enough to be invited to join our friends at the Juneau Garden Club and share a table. We had an amazing time seeing everyone decked out in their holiday finest Christmas shopping. We passed out seed packets, said hello to old friends and made a few new ones. As a board we overwhelmingly agreed that this is something we would like to continue to do in the future. So look for us next year! We will be happy to see you at the table.

Michelle Duncan
FJOA board member,
Outreach Coordinator
Volunteer Opportunity

We are looking for a few volunteers to plant bulbs into pots for a Mother's Day celebration. If you are interested in learning from our wonderful, knowledgeable Arboretum Manager, Ginger Hudson while lending a hand at the arboretum, please contact friendsjoa@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Friends of Jensen-Olson Arboretum through Pick.Click.Give. when you file for your 2022 PDF starting in January.

We appreciate your generosity.
Juneau Garden Club Meeting
Saturday February 5, 2022

Pat White, FJOA Board President, will speak to Juneau Garden Club members about upcoming activities at JOA, and ways that members can volunteer to help.
~ Look for these highlights in the Spring issue of TWIGS 

*Information about Summer plant sales

*Announcement about purchasing word garden rocks and other changes to sponsorship opportunities

*Spring updates by FJOA President Pat White and Arboretum Manager Ginger Hudson

*Summer event list for 15th Anniversary of the Arboretum Celebrations
You may have noticed...

We featured articles written by FJOA members in both the Fall and Winter issues of 2021 TWIGS. If you would like to be included in a future issue, please contact friendsjoa@gmail.com. We love being a platform to share our members' expertise and experiences. Our community is full of incredible gardeners with unique perspectives. If you have something you would like to write about, we want to know about it!
A beautiful art trellis donated to JOA rests comfortably in the fall landscape.
        Mission Statement              
 The vision of the Arboretum is to provide the people of Juneau a place that both teaches and inspires learning in horticulture, natural sciences and landscaping - to preserve the beauty of the landscape for pure aesthetic enjoyment - to maintain the historical and cultural context of the place and its people.
                                                                                                                         Caroline Jensen 
    Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum Partners  

Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club
  Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum Board Members  
*Pat White, President *Mary Mathisen, Vice President *Kim Garnero, Treasurer *Lauren Smoker, Secretary
Members at Large: Michelle Duncan, Pat Harris, Sue Baxter
Ex-Officio Member: Ginger Hudson
Newsletter co-Editors: Michelle Duncan and Ginger Hudson
All photos captured by Ginger Hudson and Michelle Duncan unless specified otherwise.
TWIGS - a quarterly publication 
Spring/March ~~ Summer/June ~~ Autumn/September ~~ Winter/December

Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum
friendsjoa@gmail.com | friendsjoarboretum.org
Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.
Contributions to FJOA are tax deductible.
Caring for Caroline's Garden
Jensen - Olson Arboretum
Physical: 23035 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, Alaska 99801    
Mailing: PO Box 33936 Juneau, AK 99803    Phone: 907.789.0139
Winter Visitor Hours: Friday - Sunday, 9am - 4pm
Summer Visitor Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 9am - 4:45pm

Nationally Accredited Plant CollectionTM of the genus Primula