Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

June 12, 2014
Tooele Valley Garden Tour will showcase 11 unique homes

The Tooele Valley Garden Tour is finally here!

Here’s your invitation to join me this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the 16th annual Tooele Valley Garden Tour. It is organized by the Tooele County Master Gardeners, and proceeds support Arbor Day and horticultural events in Tooele Valley.

There are 11 amazing and unique homes on the tour this year. If you’ve never been on a garden tour before, here’s how it works.

There are three ticket locations: Speirs Farm at 394 W. 200 South in Tooele; Tooele Valley Nursery on state Route 36 just south of Erda Way on the east side of the road; and the Fawson residence at 187 Waterhole Way in Grantsville.

Go to any of these ticket locations after about 8:45 a.m. to pay your admission ($7 per adult) and get your tour book. You’ll want to get an early start because you don’t want to run out of time and miss any of the locations. The tour book provides a QR code map to each home (accessed through your smart phone and a QR code app) and written directions to each home are in the tour book as well.

After you buy your tour book, buy some seed packets as well. With each purchase, you will enjoy a complimentary entry into a drawing for some great prizes. Our friends and event sponsors at Home Depot and Landscape Construction Supply have donated prizes.

We’ll be awarding a raised bed garden kit with a $50 gift card to Home Depot as the grand prize. There are also chances for more $50 Landscape Construction Supply and Home Depot Cards, as well as gift certificates from Tooele Valley Nursery.

Once you get on your way, you may visit any or all of the locations, and in any order you choose. The homeowners will be at each residence and ready to answer your questions as you tour their beautiful properties. Look for the Garden Tour a-frame sign outside of each location.

Below is a review of each location, done in geographical groupings that you may want to adopt for time efficiency.

Speirs Farm is not only a garden tour site, it’s also a popular wedding venue. George Speirs, current owner Barbara Barlow’s great grandfather, first owned the property and he built the log cabin that still stands on the farm. Barbara, her mother and her grandmother were all born in that cabin.

The cabin is a museum now and the farm is a sesquicentennial park, meaning that it has been in existence for more than 150 years. Enjoy strolling along the winding paths of this whimsical oasis including lawns, ornamentals, arbors, berries, orchard, grapes, outbuildings and vegetable gardens.

Also in Tooele are the Moyer/Williams residence and the Nelson residence. At the Moyer/Williams home, you will enjoy beautiful views of Tooele Valley along with intense landscaping, including raised-bed edible gardens, shade trees and lots of color. The Nelson’s have transformed an average-sized back yard into a manicured gardener’s dream beginning with a rock-formed fire pit and benches (at the lower end) to a dry river-bed with an arched bridge to a rustic covered porch that leads to their lush lawn with a perimeter of artistically formed flower beds and a lawn-level trampoline in the center.

Moving north to Erda, don’t miss the Worsencroft residence. This log home is on five acres, hidden behind a split rail fence and a forest of over 700 pine and other varieties of trees. The home features a large solar heated swimming pond (we’re talking 30 feet across!), a greenhouse, food storage building that is built into the side of a hill, large lawns, flowers, perennials, meandering paths, large edible gardens and a kid’s play area. Also in Erda is the Brockmeier’s home nestled in a rural neighborhood. The front yard features trees, flowerbeds with various types of yard art, and a beautifully done rock scape island with flowers, trees and other ornamentals. The backyard has an orchard and wonderful kid’s play area.

Nearby in Stansbury Park, there are three locations. The Jesse residence is one of the most versatile and regularly featured homescapes in the county. This intensely landscaped backyard is fresh each year with new plantings and updates. Once you enter the gate, you won’t believe you are in a small, neighborhood yard. An added plus to this location will be visiting artists that will capture its beauty on canvas while you observe.

Across the street at the Ricci home, you will enjoy a beautiful water-wise landscaped frontyard that offers one surprise after another — depending on your vantage point. Also close at hand is the Burgess residence with a nicely done landscape, including lawns, flower-beds and edible beds. Stansbury Park is a “trifecta” of horticultural delight this year.

But don’t stop yet. Head down state Route 138 to Grantsville where you will find three different but equally stunning locations — each of which is a “must see.” The Stapley’s home is a working Alpaca ranch that features a unique, edible gardening technique called aquaponics. Inside their high tunnel structure, you’ll find a large fishpond (trout and coy). The water from the fishpond is continuously circulated to the roots of their vegetable plants bringing mega nutrients (and rapid growth) to the plants.

These vegetables are not growing in soil; their roots are simply suspended in fertilized water that is warmed, in the winter months, with a rocket stove. Fascinating!

Next, on to the Johnsen’s residence where you will wonder if you have been transported to a Tuscan paradise.  The home features colorful flower-beds, boulder retaining walls, meandering lawns and paths, a shady willow avenue and colorful rose hedges. One outstanding feature is a portico on the side of the house surrounded by vine-covered cloister walkways, accessed through weathered wooden doors reminiscent of knights and fair ladies. In the center of this peaceful paradise is an herb garden with a trickling fountain.

Lastly, the Fawson location is quite possibly the crown jewel of Tooele Valley. This Grantsville property features two log homes on 26 landscaped acres complete with artesian-fed small lakes with a rope swing into the pond, bridges, walking trails, mature trees, shrubs, perennials, flowers, vegetable gardens, orchard, barn, ramadas, workshop, and greenhouse, plus enjoy watching horses and cattle grazing. There is a breathtaking thrill around every corner of this amazing property. You have to see it to believe it.

Don’t miss this world-class garden tour. Many people come from all over the Wasatch Front to Tooele each June because they have discovered that our tour is the best in Utah. You can enjoy a great day of relaxation, inspiration and education — all here close to home. For more information, visit I’ll see you there.


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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