By Shaun Moser, Conservation Garden Park
Another successful year at Conservation Garden Park – a waterwise demonstration garden that started as just a few acres almost 20 years ago and continues to grow and influence the entire state of Utah. Our visitation now sits at around 40,000 people every year. That’s 40,000 people that are learning how important
it is to conserve water, and how changing their approach to their landscape is one of the best ways to do that.
One of the biggest accomplishments of 2018 was the completion of the redesign and installation of the Neighborhood exhibits. These were the first exhibits installed in the garden 18 years ago. The idea behind them is to show six different approaches to waterwise landscaping. Each exhibit has a pergola or patio area that acts as the “house,” and the landscaping surrounding it is the yard. As the trees in the area have matured more shade has come in. This required us to redesign areas as sun-loving plants died. In addition to replanting with shade-loving plants we have also added new patios, paths, and structures to grow fruit.
A total of 50 classes were held at the garden in 2018. Inspiring, educating and empowering our communities to be waterwise is the mission of the garden. A few years ago, we stripped down our class schedule and looked at it with new perspective. This allowed us to make sure that our class offerings were in line with our mission and to make sure we were accomplishing our goals.
One of the biggest additions to our educational programs a few years ago was Localscapes. Localscapes was created to show homeowners the best way to landscape in Utah. For many years we have been trying to fit landscaping styles and practices from wetter climates into Utah’s desert climate. This has led to homeowner frustration and inefficient use of water. Localscapes teaches us that when we first consider the climate and culture we live in, we can have landscapes that have high curb appeal, functionality and lower maintenance.
The addition of the Localscapes program has also made us view the garden through new eyes. One of the main comments that we have heard in the past is, “I love the garden, but I don’t know how to translate it to my own yard.” Comments like this helped us design Localscapes but also helped us to realize we were missing something in the garden. In fall of 2018, construction began on a Localscapes exhibit. This exhibit will be the new centerpiece of the garden, showcasing a quarter-acre residential landscape with all the Localscape elements. This exhibit will open late summer/early fall of 2019.
This year was one of planning and change for the future. We made many great strides towards continuing to meet the garden’s long-term goals. If you haven’t been to the garden before, or haven’t been in several years, we invite you to come visit in 2019. From all of us at Conservation Garden Park, we wish you happy holidays and hope to see you soon.