GardenNews.biz - Jan 13,2017 - ALASKA BOTANICAL GARDEN - THE PASSING OF VERNA PRATT
On behalf of Verna's family and friends we invite you to Verna's celebration of life Sunday, January 15th
, 2 - 6 pm at UAA's Cuddy Center. There will be snacks, photos, other memorabilia. All who knew her or had the privilege of spending time with her are welcome. Guest will have time to speak about her if they wish.
Wildflower wizard Verna Pratt dies in Anchorage
Verna and Frank Pratt were honored by the Anchorage chapter of the Alaska Master Gardeners with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 40 years of teaching and contributions to the understanding of Alaska wildflowers. The Pratts at their East Anchorage home with the award, a large stone just right for the garden, on Wednesday, October 21, 2009. (Fran Durner / ADN archive 2009)
Alaska master gardener Verna E. Pratt died in Anchorage on Sunday, Jan. 8. She was considered a pioneer in popularizing knowledge of native Alaska plants among home gardeners and outdoor recreationalists.
According to the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 2014, Pratt was born Sept. 30, 1930.
She was the sixth of eight children in a Massachusetts farm family and, from a young age, took a great deal of interest in flowers, both those growing in her mother's garden and those in the fields and woods around her home.
She moved to Alaska in 1966 with her military husband, Frank, who often took photographs of the plants that obsessed his wife. In 1982 the couple founded the Alaska Native Plant Society and Verna served as the group's president until 1988.
Dissatisfied with the hefty, academic, black-and-white texts available at the time, the Pratts collaborated on "Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways," which they self-published in 1989.
With its beautiful color pictures, easy-to-read text, sturdy binding and light weight, the book became a regional hit, selling 25,000 copies within two years. Pratt, a self-educated amateur botanist, organized the book by the color of the plants rather than their scientific nomenclature. Other amateurs found that her system was intuitive and easy to use, particularly when encountering a strange flower in the field.
Wildflower expert Verna Pratt, left, describes the height differences in certain flower species to seminar participants along Denali’s Park Road just west of Toklat River during a Murie Science and Learning Center field seminar entitled “Wildflowers: A Closer Look,” in Denali National Park and Preserve. (Joshua Borough / ADN archive 2006)
Several other books followed, including "Wildflowers Along the Alaska Highway" and "Wildflowers of Denali National Park." The books earned her an award from the National Council of State Garden Clubs.
In 1992, Pratt talked to the ADN about how she came by her encyclopedic knowledge through years of observation and assiduous note-taking. "A lot of people say, 'You should get a degree; people would pay more attention,' " she said. "What's the point? So I can say I have a degree? I feel