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Photos: Soak up summer's grandeur at Alaska Botanical Garden

  • Author:
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published July 14, 2012

Few places rival Alaska in the summertime, when opportunities to appreciate the state's grandeur are unparalleled. Majestic landscape and wildlife abundance -- Alaska offers so much to see and experience, it's hard to fit it all in. But for those who can make the time, a subtler beauty can be enjoyed right here in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

What: Alaska Botanical Garden Where: 4601 Campbell Airstrip Rd.
When: Open year-round Hours: Daylight hours
Contact: 907-770-0555 Web:


$7 Adults

$5 Children 3-18

Free for members and kids under 3

To Do:

Self-guided tours

Herb garden peaks in July-August

150 species of native Alaska plants

On a recent visit to the Alaska Botanical Garden, adjacent to Far North Bicentennial Park, Alaska Dispatch photographer Loren Holmes trained his macro lens on the very, very small. One of the smallest, commonly seen flowers is Alaska's state flower, the Forget-me-not, which has blooms less than a centimeter in diameter. Many of the early-season alpine flowers and orchids at the gardens have blooms even smaller.

Flower season peaks at the Botanical Garden just about in tandem with Alaska's short summer season. See flowers at their apex between June and August, according to Garden Director Julianne McGuinness. Alpine plants and primula begin to bloom in early June; later, Himalayan blue poppies and the peonies begin their approximately month-long run. The gardens have more than 50 varieties of peony, and now is a great time to see them.

Later in July and into August the flowers give way to colorful foliage and an abundance of mushrooms and fungi.

Here a few tips for photographing tiny flowers:

  • A camera with macro settings is recommended.
  • If possible, choose a calm, overcast day. Clouds will soften the light, and little or no wind will make framing the flowers easier.
  • Be sure to set your camera's white balance to the cloudy setting.
  • A higher f-stop will keep more of the flower in focus, but will require a slower shutter speed. Try the "Av" setting and crank it up to 16 or more.
  • A tripod is recommended. It tripod will help steady the camera for long exposures.
  • No tripod? Cut down on camera shakes with the self-timer.
  • Another way to cut down on camera shake with a tripod is to use the self-timer.
  • Beautiful macro photos may still be made even without a tripod. None of the photos in this slideshow were taken with a tripod.

    Even without a camera, the Botanical Garden offer Alaska's urban dwellers a great place to enjoy the state's natural beauty with time to spare for Kaladi's.

    To purchase fine-art prints of any of these photos, visit our photo store.

    Contact Loren Holmes at loren(at)

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