Alaska greenhouse gives visitors the Hawaii vibes

It’s the time of year when many Alaskans feel they could use a little sunshine. But if a trip to Hawaii isn’t in the cards, they may want to take a drive to East Anchorage to visit the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse in Russian Jack Springs Park.

The greenhouse boasts an extensive collection of tropical and desert plants, and includes an aviary and koi fish pond. It isn’t exactly Hawaii, but with a year-round temperature hovering near 70 degrees, the greenhouse is a great place to get out of the cold and spend a little quiet time.

“It just provides kind of a respite from our reality as Anchorage-ites,” said Municipal Gardener Rich Lott. “Our winters are long and dark and cold, and this kind of gives people a break.”

Lott said the greenhouse opened in the early 1970s and some of the plants inside are nearly as old, including several trees. There’s also a collection of fruiting trees and plants that produce papayas, pineapples and citrus. There’s even the occasional Alaska grown banana. “They’re a little smaller, but they’re sweeter and in my opinion, better than store bought,” Lott said.

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