Plants from around the World Showcased on Temple Square

Contributed By Noelle Baldwin, Church News contributor

  • 16 June 2016

Youth from the East Millcreek Utah 9th Ward plant geraniums during a service project at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The gardens on top of the Conference Center reflect the value the pioneers placed on gardening.
  • The gardens on and around Temple Square fill a total of 35 acres.
  • Garden tours are available to guests.

Gardening has always been highly valued by Latter-day Saints. In fact, when the pioneers were crossing the plains, women sewed seeds into the hems of their dresses and inside their shoe linings. Today the gardens on the plaza around the Church Office Building and on top of the Conference Center reflect that value. Marsha Fryer, the garden guide director for the Church, said that it is “important for us to tell that legacy that the pioneers brought with them.”

Every year with the help of employees, service missionaries, and volunteers the gardens on the Plaza and the Conference Center showcase flowers and plants from around the world. Sister Fryer said that while some of the plants originate in the United States, others come from Costa Rica, Holland, and other countries. “To us,” she said, “[it] is symbolic of the gospel” and the Church having a presence around the globe.

Different gardens surround and fill portions of 35 acres near and around Temple Square. Each year over 200,000 bulbs are planted along with thousands of other plants. About 300,000 plants are grown annually in the Church’s greenhouse before they are transplanted to the gardens. Twice a year after general conference the gardens are “turned over,” said Sister Fryer. In April volunteers from different stakes in the area remove the spent bulbs, which are then replaced with new ones after the October general conference.

Sister Fryer said that there are hundreds of varieties of flowers and plants between the two gardens. The gardens on the plaza contain 250 flower beds, over 165,000 bedding plants or annual plants, and more than 700 plants from around the world.

Pansies can be seen often along the garden tours route in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

On the plaza everything from the colors of the flowers to the grasses are carefully planned. The gardens are meant to be inviting for those who want to “just relax and enjoy the beauties of the gardens and the temple grounds,” said Sister Fryer, who added that annual plants are chosen according to their bright colors and their ability to last through the heat of the summer.

Icelandic poppies and tulips are a common sight on the garden tours in early spring in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Lion House’s and the Beehive House’s gardens are fashioned after traditional English gardens to mirror what the pioneers “thrived on and lived on,” said Sister Fryer. Here sage, thyme, and other herbs that the pioneers grew near their homes help visitors envision what life was like for the early settlers.

The Beehive House Heritage Gardens is a stop on the garden tours in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The garden on the top of the Conference Center is the four-acre “garden without a gardener because it is pretty natural,” Sister Fryer said. There is a mountainside portion with Serbian spruces and aspens that mimic Utah’s mountains, and then there is the meadow portion, which is where a large portion of wildflowers grow. Both portions are filled with wild grasses, but the wildflowers are at their peak during the summer months.

Jackie Sauls from Iowa, right, talks to Bonnie Bailey at the black granite wall display in the gardens on the Conference Center roof, a stop on the garden tours in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Tours of the gardens on the plaza start in the southwest lobby of the Church Office Building so visitors can see the plants around the Church Office Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Lion House, and the Beehive House, while tours of the Conference Center roof meet inside door 15 of the Conference Center.

Wendy Douglas, a garden tours guide, speaks to youth from Cedar City in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Tours of the gardens start the second week of April and run through September. Plaza garden tours are held Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Tours of the Conference Center garden are available Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. For group or private tours, call 801-240-5916.

Andy Stringfellow, from the Facilities Technical Services Grounds Division, prepares annuals for planting in the Utah Parterre Garden in Salt Lake City, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Youth from the East Millcreek Utah 9th Ward plant annuals during a service project at the Utah Parterre Garden in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Harmony Juracan from the Lindon Utah 20th Ward plants annuals during a service project in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Youth from local Utah wards plant annuals during a service project in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Michael Nelson, left, and Brent Arnold, youth from the Cedar City Utah 8th Ward, enjoy a garden tour in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Horse chestnut trees are seen in bloom across the street from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Michelle Jenkins, left, Grace Heiner, center, and Alison Simmerman, right, young women from the Cedar City Utah 8th Ward, enjoy the walking garden tour in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Creeping juniper and other plants grow in the Conference Center eyebrow beds, one of the things seen on the garden tours in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Youth and leaders from the Colony Pointe Utah Ward prepare a flower bed to be planted as part of a service project in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Madeline Simmerman, left, and Lilani Nelson smile as they admire flowers along the garden tour in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Church-service missionary Sister Leslie Garrison walks by flower beds with Icelandic poppies, which can be seen in early spring on the garden tours in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Conference Center rooftop garden is one of many stops along the garden tours route in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Joni Gould, from the Facilities Technical Services Grounds Division, prepares annuals for planting in the Utah Parterre Garden in Salt Lake City, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

A combination of paid workers and volunteers make the gardens surrounding Temple Square a possibility in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.