Getting to the source: Where our experts go for gardening advice

By Mike Lorenc, Conservation Garden Park

As a savvy gardener, you use various resources to increase your know-how—like this column. You know that seeking quality information increases your chances of success. And we take pride in being a resource that you have come to trust. We also have resources that we, as a staff, have come to trust. This week we’ll share some of the resource materials that have given rise to ideas used in the Garden.

Garden manager Shaun Moser’s recommendations start with a subject he loves: park strips. “Hellstrip Gardening” by Evelyn Hadden is a great source of ideas to add curb appeal to that strip between the sidewalk and curb. Another of his favorites is “Garden Design” magazine, a solid, innovative magazine with information about plants, design and maintenance. Shaun uses Monrovia’s website to find the latest specs on new plants’ sun and water requirements and mature size. He would also like to note that the staff here works hard on the Conservation Garden Park website as well.

Our lead horticulturist, Mike Lorenc, is an avid podcast listener and “The Joe Gardener Show” is currently his favorite. He says “Lawn Gone” by Pam Penick is one of the best books on the subject of replacing lawn grass. “The Undaunted Garden” and “Plant Driven Design” by Lauren Springer heavily influenced his own design style. Also, Mike is a frequent user of USU fact sheets for information written for our local environment and Utah Pests ( for the latest on integrated pest management.

Amanda Strack, Jordan Valley Water’s conservation coordinator, has spent a lot of time with the book “Waterwise” by Wendy Mee and published by USU press. This book promotes water conservation and the preservation of Utah’s natural landscape character using plants native to the Intermountain West. It includes profiles of specific plants in their natural habitat and ways to use them in our landscapes. Amanda also appreciates how easy the filters on High Country Gardens’ website make finding good plants that fill a specific niche in the landscape.

Outreach coordinator Cynthia Bee suggests starting a Pinterest board. She feels this will influence your own landscape style and could help clarify what draws you to a designer if you hire one. Cynthia also recommends a pair of great books, “Pretty, Tough, Plants” by the crew at Plant Select for its wide array of plants that are proven performers in the West, and “Combinations for Conservation,” which aims to give homeowners the confidence to create beautiful low-water landscapes with plant combinations that have proven to do well here in Utah.

Courtney Brown, conservation programs manager, thinks a more interactive resource might be in order—classes. Conservation Garden Park has many classes available every year, as do all the demonstration gardens around the state. Each class is designed to help you achieve your low-water landscaping goals. For a more involved experience, USU Extension service teaches master gardener classes every year that act as a mini horticulture degree.

Now you know the resources behind your favorite resource: Conservation Garden Park. Our joint expertise will help you get the landscape you want!