Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 14, 2005
Expo great place to learn art of spring gardens

Gardeners in Tooele County are in for a rare treat with the Tooele Spring Garden Expo coming to Tooele this Saturday.

The Expo is present by Utah State University Advanced Master Gardeners.

These dedicated gardeners travel each Monday morning in the late winter and spring to Thanksgiving Gardens to receive training as part of a four-year program to increase their gardening skill. Coupled with their training comes the chance to give back to their communities — and they are doing that with the Expo this Saturday in Tooele and next Saturday in Grantsville.

Featured at this Saturday’s workshop is Shelly Zollinger, another USU Master Gardener from Davis County and one of Utah’s best known landscape designers. Zollinger is one of the garden stewards at Temple Square and is well known as the coauthor of the book Temple Square Gardening. She is offering superb ideas to county residents in her presentation this Saturday.

The spring gardens are actually planted in the fall but now is the time to grab your notebook and your camera and make notations of what you want to plant to enhance your garden next spring. When it comes time next fall to plant these gardens there are no examples to look at and get ideas.

Entering the gardens at Temple Square is a delight anytime, but these spring gardens have a beauty and mystic all their own. This special magic comes from many sources, but perhaps it is because we are emerging from the long, gray dreary winter that makes the flowers exceptionally welcome.

Another factor is because the flowers change so quickly from day to day as spring arrives.

It is easy to be delighted by those first spring blossoms.

The rooftop gardens have parking terraces and other structures under the soil so they are usually warmer than the open soil in the rest of the city. This gives the flowers there a jump on the season.

In a sense, spring gardens are the resurrection of the earth after it has been sleeping through the winter. Use the ideas of Zollinger and other garden experts to help create a little magic of your own in your garden.

Over the years the gardening staff has “invented” spring blooming gardens for Utah. This invention came from years of study, trial and error and of consistent looking for and finding the right way to grow plants for spectacular spring gardens. They developed the manual for these techniques that you are reading as a part of Temple Square Gardening.

Face the reality and admit that the bulbs look bad for much longer than they look good. Although bulbs are truly spectacular flowers, they cannot sustain the garden for the entire season.

Most spring bulbs are outstanding for a week, nice for two weeks and tolerable for three weeks. After that they are dead petals, gangling flower stems and long leaves that eventually turn brown and die.

The salvation of the spring garden is the other plants, not the bulbs. Some of these are winter annuals, some are biennials that take two years to complete their life cycle and some are spring blooming perennials that come back again and again.

All these plants share a common characteristic of being able to survive the winter and grow in early spring.

They then burst forth with brilliant color to paint an exquisite spring garden.

The Bible teaches that there is “a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which was planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2) Spring gardens must be planted in a timely manner in the fall or they will never shine in the spring.

Horticultural necessity dictates we plant the spring garden in the fall, not in the winter or spring but now is the time to look at the flowers and make note of what you would like to include.

Designing spring flower displays takes patience and skill.

Summer flowerbeds are filled with annuals that grow and fill in rather quickly. Choosing the best plants and planting them at the best time will provide proven spring flowerbeds that will look good from the time the snow melts until you replace the bulbs with the summer annuals.

Fall-planted flowers fall into several different horticultural or botanical categories.

It is important to note that in spite of their botanical definitions, Zollinger and other Temple Square gardeners sometimes use these plants differently than they would grow naturally. For example, pansies are biennials but most gardeners grow them as winter annuals because they are not interested in having them produce seed and they do not withstand the heat of summer. Flower breeders have also changed the way some of these flowers perform when compared to the native-grown types.

In addition to the springflowering bulbs there are several other categories of spring blooming flowers. Some are winter annuals, meaning they start growth in the fall and bloom the next spring.

Others are biennials that grow one year and flower the following year. By choosing the right varieties of the biennials, you will be able to force these flowers to bloom next spring. Others choice flowers are spring-blooming perennials that not only offer the versatility of spring blooms but can also be left in to provide beauty year after year.

Tips for the week:

• Temple Square Gardening is published by Deseret Book Company in Salt Lake City.

• Get excellent garden advice and learn more about it from the experts at the Tooele Spring Garden Expo hosted by the Tooele County Master Gardeners on Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with registration at 9:30 a.m. Shelly Zollinger, Temple Square Gardener and co-author of Temple Square Gardening will be the special guest speaker talking about landscaping ideas. Master Gardeners will teach workshops on annuals, lawn care, water-wise perennials, trees, propagation, and shrubs and vines. A fee of $5 will cover the cost of handout materials.

For more information, call the USU Extension Office at 843-2350.

• See a display of spring flowers in bloom at an open house at the home of David and Mary Durtschi, 129 S. Grant in Stockton, on April 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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