No, no, not that other ‘Oasis’ where people are splashing around in the water and such. I’m talking about a real, bonafide oasis, right here in the ice-laden, white world of which we Alaskans are frankly growing a little weary. After years of driving by Russian Jack Springs Park off DeBarr road in northeast Anchorage, AK Kid and I finally stopped in for a visit to the Mann Leiser Greenhouse at the entrance to the park. I’m still in a state of warmish nirvana.
The Greenhouse, part visitor center and part active growing site for the Muni’s flowers and other flora, is a sort of ‘secret garden’ of opportunity for folks to relieve winteritis, and discover how the more tropical areas of the world spend their other nine months of the year. Hehe.
Open daily from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., the Mann Leiser Greenhouse welcomes everyone, and I mean everyone. A friend of mine says she used to bundle up her babies, grab a blanket and book, and spend a few hours basking in the sultry glow of the greenhouse’s lighting and balmy temperatures. Ahhh, time away from the snowsuits and boots.
AK Kid and I were quite happy to unzip our down jackets and take off hats upon first entering the building, located at the north end of the facility. A sign reminded us to shut the door firmly (musn’t let that precious heat out, now) and not to touch any plants. No worry, a small koi pond immediately attracted the attention of my budding biologist, and a cage of both native and companion birds chattered and chirped at him as we clomped up the cement steps to their cage.
Like stepping into another world, one most Alaskans are unfamiliar with, the greenhouse displayed hundreds of tropical and desert plants from lilly to cactus to, well, I’m not sure what those crazy umbrella-like trees were with the red blossoms were, but they sure were cool.
No joke, if I shut my eyes I could make myself believe I was in Hawaii. The thick, insulated walls of the glass house kept traffic noise to a minimum, and whirring fans circulated oh-so-lovely 75 degree air around our bodies.
I was surprised my 5 year old child was so intrigued with the building, I guess that’s why the weekly story time (Wednesdays) is so popular. Kids love secret places, and a secret, warm place fits the bill even better. I’m disappointed in myself for not visiting sooner.
Call Amy Hubbard with Anchorage Parks and Recreation for more information at 343-7418. The Mann Leiser Greenhouse is also available to rent for gatherings. Admission to the greenhouse is FREE otherwise.
Our photo gallery at right has a few more photos of our hour in paradise. Check out AK Kid’s reaction to the snakey-looking cactus that reminded me of Medusa!