The Alaska Botanical Garden is a living museum.

“Gardens, they are this mix of art and science. They’re an individual’s interpretation of their experience in the natural world,” says executive director Robin Dublin.

One might consider the artifacts to be the 1,100 varieties of plants found within the 110-acre garden in East Anchorage.

Dublin says that visitors — many of them local — often want to know where they can get some of the flowers on display.

“Local gardeners see the plants that we have and they say, ‘I would like that plant in my garden. Where do I get it?’ Most of the plants that we have, you can’t get,” Dublin said.

But that’s about to change.

The Alaska Botanical Garden broke ground on a new greenhouse project in 2015 for two greenhouses on the property. The first greenhouse will celebrate its completion on Earth Day 2017. Inside that greenhouse, the garden will be filled with sought-after, hard-to-find-in-Alaska varieties, known as “niche plants.”

“The larger stores just aren’t able to provide them. It’s such a small market, it’s harder for the smaller greenhouses to provide as well. So here’s an opportunity for us to provide plants to gardeners that are really special and are hard to get,” says Dublin.

The other greenhouse will be used for research and development purposes. Both will be powered using renewable energy sources, such as ground source heat pumps.

In addition to plant sales, the greenhouse will provide an indoor space for the expansion of gardening workshops and more education programs. Staff will also be able to start growing some plants earlier in the season, which will help streamline the spring planting process.

Another notable first? The garden will also have indoor bathrooms, located inside the greenhouse building. Dublin says this will be helpful for the many events, like weddings and fundraisers, that are held on the grounds.

KTVA’s Rachael Penton can be reached by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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