I really liked this story in the Salt Lake Tribune about the gardens at Temple Square. Everytime I go to Temple Square (which is not as often as it once was) no matter what time of year there are always, always, beautiful flowers in perfectly manicured gardens on the grounds.
Of course it takes a great deal of work to get and keep the grounds maintained they way they are. It’s amazing to see just how much work is required and the significant amount of flowers there are:
The 35 acre grounds are planted with an estimated average of 600,000 plants and flowers per season and draw crowds from around the world. It’s hot, dirty and therapeutic. Digging, mulching, weeding and pruning faded leaves and blossoms in the heat of the day are just part of the duties for church missionary and garden guide Tammy Melzer, who volunteers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints April through November.
Melzer is one of 55 garden guides who help care for the more than 35 acres that surround Salt Lake City’s most famous downtown real estate, including Temple Square, the LDS Church Office Building, museums, conference center and more.
At least 400 varieties of flowers grace the walks, parking structures, roofs, buildings and the lesser-known cemeteries where Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young are buried. The goal of the gardens, said Eldon Cannon, a group manager of ground services, is to coordinate the harmonious color, height and patterns of flowers to create a stunning display for the more than 5 million people who visit the Temple Square grounds annually.
It takes quite a bit of advance planning to keep over 35 acres of gardens manicured the way the Church does around Temple Square:
Cannon and his staff of 35 work year-round to orchestrate blossoms in almost every season. The lead gardener, six senior gardeners and several volunteers start planning the beds’ designs at least one season in advance by clipping photos from catalogs and arranging them on paper. Gardeners are encouraged to use their own design sense in the beds, a tradition taught for years by Peter Lassig, the former head gardener.
Some of the last living American elms in the United States are found on Temple Square, according to sources. They were planted in 1894 at the behest of then-Prophet and President Wilford Woodruff, who was inspired by his attendance at the Chicago World’s Fair with its “City Beautiful” theme.
A grand, 70-foot cedar in the southeast corner of Temple Square dubbed the “Cedar of Lebanon” was brought from Lebanon more than 50 years ago as a start, carried in a woman’s purse, as history tells it. Each Christmas it is adorned with 1,500 tiny, red lights, says Cannon, who begins gearing up for the Christmas lights on Temple Square in August.
To keep the gardens as they are it literally takes a small army of volunteers to assist the full time gardners and staff at Temple Square:
“Volunteers are essential,” says Kathy Mills, volunteer and Christmas coordinator. “The staff needs a labor force, especially during the huge planting season. It would take months to do what the volunteers do in weeks.” An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 youth and adult volunteers are brought in each May and October to pull out the old, wilted flowers and plant the next season’s beds, Mills says.
Talk about a service project. It’s a garden party to make Ricky Nelson proud.