Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 3, 2014
Remembering a great gardening friend

Spring certainly has been utterly dependable by being undependable! When I first moved to the area, I took the bait of those early warm days of spring. I planted and lost my share of plants, due to the “sucker weather.” About that time I got some sage advice from my friend Clark from West Jordan who said, “the old timers around here advised not to plant until the snow is off the Oquirrh Mountains.” That’s been his rule of thumb for many years, and it’s served him well. If you do want to plant before the last average Tooele frost date of May 7, you’ll need to provide some protection for your plants. Those of you that live in Rush Valley and Stockton, you know this better than most.

As my mind turns towards all of the great things I plan to do this season in our yard and garden, I can’t help but think about Larry Sagers. I miss him. I suspect you do too. With that in mind, at the beginning of this article, I want to let you know two important events coming up soon that I invite you to be a part of.

First, Diane Sagers and the Sagers’ son, Stephen, will be special guests on the KSL Greenhouse Show this coming Saturday, April 5. This will be a great show with lots of memories, smiles and commemoration of a great life. The show runs from 8 to 11 a.m.  I’m not sure exactly when Diane and Stephen will be on with Tim Hughes and Taun Beddes, but why not listen to the whole show? Tune in at 1160 AM or 102.7 FM.

Second, the formal dedication of the Larry Sagers Memorial Garden will be happening on Saturday, April 12, at 2 p.m. This great event will be held at the USU Tooele Extension Master Garden, located at 151 N. Main, and will last approximately one hour. The gardening community both from our valley as well as those along the Wasatch Front will pay tribute to Larry and commemorate many of his great contributions to our community and to the state. I’m looking forward to hearing memories from Linden Greenhalgh of the USU Extension, Kari Scribner, 2014 President of the Tooele County Master Gardeners Association, and members of the Sagers family. The event will culminate with the unveiling of a beautiful memorial plaque, changing of the garden name to “The Larry A. Sagers Memorial Garden,” and conclude with a prayer of dedication by our friend Gary Fawson of Grantsville. Light refreshments will be served afterwards. Come enjoy some great memories as well as conversation after the event.

The garden was conceived to both beautify an underutilized plot of ground, and to serve as a demonstration garden for adapted plants that work really well in our area. It’s worth the visit.  The plants are clearly marked with both their botanical and common names, and the appearance changes throughout the season so you can see different varieties that you might want to put in your yardscape.

I’d like to share with you some of my memories of Larry and how I got to know him. I’ve had a long term interest in horticulture, but to be honest, that interest had faded a bit and got lost in a lot of other things. Shortly after moving to Utah in 2001, we built a home in Erda on a five acre plot that had been a dry-cropped wheat field. I had never before experienced clay like that. We learned that when wet, you didn’t want to walk in it, or you risked leaving your boots behind. If you did keep your boots, you brought a full load of sticky mud with you and mud management became a major challenge around our place! Later, when the ground was drier, we learned other challenges that came along when attempting to grow desirable plants, dig up beds, or manage the dust clouds generated when you just drove on it.

About that time, we crossed paths with Larry on the radio. The man had such a knack for hearing the questions, and answering them with wit, humor, experience and knowledge. Over time, it dawned on me that I was hearing some of the same questions over and over again. If I heard repeats, in just a few short months of listening, then Larry must have heard them scores of times over the years. You would never know it, though. He’d answer each question like it was asked for the first time and the caller would go away with new knowledge and encouraged to engage further in the art of gardening.

I came to know some master gardeners back when we lived in Tucson but, though intrigued, I never got involved. However, in the midst of our trial-and-error landscaping and gardening experiment at our Erda home, an announcement came out that a Master Gardener class was being offered. My first thought was, “Sign me up!” I got the information and heard that Linden Greenhalgh and Larry Sagers would be leading it. The pieces all started coming together. Not only had I heard Larry before, but I was a regular reader of “Garden Spot.” “I wonder if Larry and Diane are related?” I thought.  I’ll say.

The class led by Larry and Linden was a hoot. Besides their energy and expertise, there was an incredible string of subject matter experts that we got access to, as well as enjoying some field trips together. Larry was the main presenter, and Linden made it all happen with organizing, getting things set up, and giving his insights along the way. Larry had the practice of teaching the scheduled material, using a lot of pictures, or actual samples, and then reserving time at the end of the class for any gardening questions that any of us had. I suspect we learned almost as much in those impromptu times as we did in the planned subjects.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t mention that Larry could be a quirky guy. Who else do you know that has a collection of gardening-themed ties that matched the topic for the night? He did. Or, his refusal to get into the middle of a debate between husband and wife about how much fertilizer or water should go on the family lawn, citing the fact that “this is a gardening class – marital counseling was extra charge.” He had a ready supply of facts, humorous quotes, and wit to draw from that made the whole experience “edutaining.”

He had a great deal of affection and respect for his wife Diane, my predecessor of this column. It was obvious that affection was reciprocated. The fact is, Larry could not have done what he did in his very active career and Master Gardening interests if she didn’t support him as strongly as she did. Larry also was supportive of Diane’s writing pursuits. Supportive as he was, his sense of humor would often surface. Someone asked Larry about something that Diane had said in one of her articles. Larry’s response? “Oh no you don’t. I’m not going to be held responsible for something my wife has said. Nor are you going to get me on record contradicting my wife. We both know that wouldn’t end well for me.” You just gotta love a guy like that.

Time and space will not allow me to detail the outpouring of love and memories from his “Greenhouse Show” listeners upon hearing that we had lost Larry in the early part of November 2012. Tim Hughes, Larry’s co-host, is a really great guy, both on and off the air. Perhaps you remember Tim’s first broadcast after Larry’s passing. It was really tough. The depth of friendship, respect and camaraderie was readily apparent as he worked to “hold it together” while he hosted the show that said goodbye to his long-term friend and co-host. Later, when I saw him at Larry’s funeral, I thanked him for that show and commented there was no way that I could have done what he did — putting his own grief aside to  make sure that the attention was squarely focused on Larry rather than his own loss.

Shortly after Larry’s passing, the Master Gardeners had their Christmas Party. We shared our memories of Larry in the community, in his church, in the classroom and as a family man. There was no shortage of tribute, outpouring of affection and laughter. I remember the thought coming to my mind that Larry was an ordinary man in so many ways. However, he put “that little extra” in whatever he did. So, in a real sense, you could describe Larry as “extra-ordinary!”

So, would you join me in the honor of being part of the upcoming dedication event and extending a “hug” to the Sagers family? I hope to see you there.



Larry Sagers Memorial Garden Dedication

Saturday, April 12, 2 p.m., Master Garden, USU Extension Offices, 151 N. Main, Tooele. There will be a commemoration of gardening community contributions by Larry Sagers, dedication of the garden, and installation of the remembrance plaque. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Patty Wheeler at, or 435-277-2409.

Monthly Gardener’s Breakfast Get-Together

Every third Saturday, April through September, 9-11 a.m., held at the Stockton Miners Café, 47 North Connor (the Main Street) in Stockton. Current gardening topics, challenges, successes and collective advice will be shared. Admission is the price of whatever you order off the menu! Led by Dirtfarmer Jay and Dirtfarmer Maggie of For more information, contact or 435-830-1447.

Pesticide License and Applicator Class

Tuesday, April 22, 6-9 p.m. Complete this free class to obtain your license ($20 fee) that allows you to purchase and apply restricted materials for various pest and weed controls. For more information call Linden Greenhalgh, 435-277-2407, or Jerry Caldwell, Tooele County Weed Supervisor, at 435-830-7273.

Season Opening

New Horizons Garden Center, Saturday, May 3, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Located on the southeast corner of state Route 36 and Bates Canyon Road. Classes on water-wise and adapted plants, garden planning assistance, spotlights on new offerings and legacy plants. For more information, contact Faye Millican at 435-840-0888, or


Jay Cooper can be contacted at 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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