There is a little spot in Anchorage where Alaska's winters never arrive, an oasis for people to come and enjoy.
Two adjoining greenhouses at the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse have their own tropical climate and desert plants year-round. It's also home to a grapefruit tree that produces fruit, as well as a fig tree that has a few small figs.
When you enter, you hear the parrots squawking and the burbling artificial brook. Colorful koi fish swim in the pond, under towering trees rooted right in the ground. It's a place where some people come simply to relax and eat their lunches.
Stephen Gray, the greenhouse's horticulture park foreman, says he's lucky to work here. At this time of year his crew is done with their busiest season, the summer months when they tend to plants for municipal properties across the city. Now they have more time for the public greenhouse.
For the lifeforms at the greenhouse, it's a second chance. When people move and leave animals behind or when a plant gets too big, they come to the greenhouse.
"This greenhouse is a refuge for the orphaned birds and fish and plants," Gray said.
Gray likens how they fare here to a life lesson.
"Some are going to do well and some aren't," Gray said. "You're going to have successes and you're going to have failures."
Working here is a lesson in using what you've got. There are the long days of summer where everything grows, then the dark winters.
"It's too easy here in Alaska, especially in the winter to get caught up in the fact that there is no growth going on outside," Gray said.
The greenhouse, at 1321 Lidia Selkregg Lane, is open every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.