Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 5, 2015
Boost your ‘gardening game’ at the Spring Garden Expo

I have friends who have their kids in city or school sports leagues. Some are pretty casual about their kids’ sports activities, others are pretty intense and have high aspirations for their offspring’s athletic careers. I’ve learned that there are rigorous coaching camps for a range of sports. The ones I’ve learned a bit about are football and baseball.

These camps allow budding and highly motivated young players to be coached intensively in the craft of their sport. One high school athlete showed me very specific drills, techniques, stances and grips that greatly improved his abilities as a quarterback. In fact, the improvement over a few days was quite remarkable.

As gardeners, we have a very similar opportunity coming up in the form of the Spring Garden Expo this Saturday. There are few settings where you can receive so much information and learn great practices to put to work in your yardscape in such a short period of time.

If there are any hard and fast commitments that come along with being a gardener, becoming a life-long learner is one of them. The amazing world of horticulture is a rich one with never-ending vistas to explore. Not matter how much you know and practice, there are always new things to learn, and ongoing new developments to incorporate.

With that pursuit of learning comes a whole company of really great people. There’s something very positive about being around a group of people who are passionate about gardening and life in the yard. They are willing to share what they know, as well as listen intently about your experiences. The ebb and flow of conversation and the exchange of information is one of the main attractions of being a member of the Tooele County Master Gardener Association. The Spring Garden Expo is a great place to experience the camaraderie and shared knowledge from this group of active learners.

What is the Garden Expo? It’s a fun and fast-paced way to learn a lot in a short period of time. This is accomplished by offering two different topics beginning at 10 a.m., two more at 11 a.m., and yet two more at noon. Each of the two classes run concurrently during each hour, so if you have a friend or companion you can bring to “divide and conquer” you can get all of the classes covered. Each class has a handout provided for note-taking and future reference.

But that’s not all (at the risk of sounding like an infomercial!). Beginning at 1 p.m., there will be a general session led by Larry Tabner who, before retiring, was the Temple Square garden director in downtown Salt Lake City. He’ll be sharing his best practices and insights that were used to create and maintain that facility’s beautiful grounds. It’s a sure-fire bet that you’ll leave that session with all sorts of new things you can use around your place.

What’s more, this is all at the ultra-reasonable price of $5 per person. Of course, such reasonable admission prices are a bargain only if what you get is of great value. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed. Here’s why.

The 10 a.m. topics are “Basic Vegetable Gardening” and “Shrubs and Trees for the Tooele Area.” Louise Hulet will be teaching the veggie class. Vegetables have some very specific needs to be productive, and you’ll get some great basics to help assure you get a great harvest this upcoming season. Dave Quist will be sharing his insights on shrubs and trees that will do really well in our area. Because something is offered in the store doesn’t mean that it’s well adapted for our area. Come find out which ones are!

The second hour, beginning at 11 a.m., has two offerings as well. You can choose from “Basic Residential Landscape Design” by Virginia Hooper, or “Growing Great Grapes” by… wait for it… Jay Cooper (me). So, you have a choice at 11 a.m. of either Hooper or Cooper (I thought I’d beat you to that obvious pun, I just couldn’t help myself). I’d like to let you in on a secret. One of the conflicts that I have with the schedule is that I wanted to go hear Virginia’s presentation. She’s a really sharp lady, really knows her stuff with landscape design, and is a great communicator. If you are at the beginning of creating your outdoor living space and don’t know where to begin, this is a must-attend class. If your interest is in grape varieties that will work in the area, as well as successful irrigation, trellising, pest control, and pruning — come see me. There will also be a free hands-on demonstration in our vineyard two weeks later at our Erda home.

The third hour, beginning at noon, has two excellent courses as well. Holly Christly will be teaching “Water Wise Gardening”, while Gary Fawson will give you a whole host of insights in “Ground Covers for Your Garden.” Holly was a recent presenter in the Master Gardeners’ monthly free public class on this self-same topic — and rightfully so! Holly is a graduate student, ready to receive her degree from USU on this specialty. With the water challenges we have in our area, and the wide range of low or no-water native plants available, you’ve got to see what’s out there and how to incorporate these wonderful plants into your garden.

As for Gary Fawson, there are few that are as qualified to speak with such a depth of knowledge as Gary does. He, and his wife Janet, know a thing or two as evidenced by the beautiful homestead they’ve created in north Grantsville. Their place consists of two homes, acres of hilly vegetation and several ponds in addition to horse pastures, vegetable gardens and orchards. Their grounds are featured yearly in the Spring Garden Tour and the Master Gardeners host events there as well each year. Gary will share with you what he knows about various ground covers and what works well in what settings. If you haven’t been to the Fawson place, the Garden Tour is coming up June 13. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, March 7. Come into the USU Extension building’s main front doors and proceed directly ahead to the registration desk. The Extension is located at 151 N. Main in Tooele, across from the Big 5 Sports store. Come early, get a good seat, and have a great time rubbing elbows with a lot of fellow gardening enthusiasts.

The expo happens just in time to get your mind into the game of gardening before the season begins. Chances are you’ll not only learn some terrific things in the sessions, but also in your conversations with other attendees as well. Simply said, it will be hard to beat this return-on-earning-investment of $5 for four hours of fun and education this coming Saturday. I hope to see you there — whether you come to my class or not. (Virginia is tough competition!)


Jay Cooper can be contacted at, or you can visit his website at for videos and articles on gardening, shop skills, culinary arts and landscaping.

Jay Cooper

Garden Spot Columnist at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Jay Cooper is a new contributing writer for the Garden Spot column. He replaced Diane Sagers, who retired in November 2013 after writing the column for 27 years. Also known as Dirt Farmer Jay, Cooper and his wife have been residents of Erda since 2001 after moving to Utah from Tucson, AZ. A passionate gardener and avid reader of horticultural topics, for several years he has been a member of Utah State University’s Master Gardeners Program, and served as chapter president in 2013. Cooper says Tooele County has an active and vibrant gardening community, and the Garden Spot column will continue to share a wide range of gardening, landscaping, home skills and rural living themes.

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