on June 14, 2011
We spent a rather wet day exploring Temple Square when we started our visit to the USA in May this year.The first thing that struck me was not the huge grey stone built temple but rather the beautiful gardens that were all around the Square.The bulbs were all out in the formal beds in the Square but there were parts of the Square that were specifically more garden than paving. The gardens varied from the more formal to the English Cottage style and all around I noticed fabulous hanging baskets and in other parts the plants were more local having plants that coped with the drier climate in Salt Lake City. It is testament to the amazing planting that I noticed all the fabulous plants and flowers despite the fact it was pouring with rain and we were running from building to building as best we could.Because I was so fascinated by the gardens I picked up a leaflet while I was there and read it while we ate our lunch in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I discovered that there are 35 acres of garden in the Temple Square area which is a pretty large area by any standard. The gardens have 250 flower beds with over 165,000 bedding plants and over 700 varieties of plant from all around the world. This is a huge area to keep planted and well cared for it is as large as many city parks and no small task.Apparently the gardens are redesigned every six months and the planting is done by hundreds of Church volunteers. There seems to be no shortage of volunteers within the Mormon community not only to work in the gardens but also to do the charity work which is very important part of their religion.My two favourite gardens were those outside the Beehive House and Lion House and then the amazing garden which is on the roof of the Conference Centre Rooftop.In front of the Beehive House and Lion house the gardens were English Country garden in style with gorgeous colourful flowers. The poppies and tulips were particularly lovely and the sun came out just in time to allow me to take a couple of photos with rain drops. In front of the Temple was a long fairly formal garden and at the end furthest from the Temple was where all the couples getting married stood and posed to have their photo taken. While we were there we saw three couples standing to have their photos taken and we were told that there can be up to 80 weddings a day in the summer months. A bit of a production line it seems but this was a really great place to stand for a posed photo surrounded by the beautiful gardens with the rather imposing temple as a back drop.The garden on the roof top of the enormous Conference centre is four acres of planting that is designed as a prairie. The grasses are native and wild as are the flowering plants on the rooftop. Because these are native plants they are able to cope with the dry climate of Salt Lake City and use about half the water required by non drought hardy plants. The water is collected from the roof and recycled in a huge water fall down the side of the building which is another impressive feature.All tours of the Temple Square area are free. You don’t have to take tours of all the buildings but some require that you have a guide. The Beehive House is one of these and the roof Garden of the Conference Centre also requires a guide.If you would like a tour of the gardens then they are open from April through to September and they leave from various places in the Square so it is best to enquire at the Temple square area if you would like to go on a tour. Tours of the Conference Centre roof garden are given Monday through Friday at 10 a.m and you have to meet at door 15. However private and group tours can be arranged by calling 801-240-5916. You have to be aware that the roof garden can be closed if the weather is inclement and indeed while we were there we could only look out at the garden from the glass doors as it was pouring with rain and so considered dangerous. I was very disappointed we could not go out and explore further but luckily the two glass doors did give a pretty good view of two sections of these amazing gardens.Throughout Temple square there was good access for those with mobility disabilities with lifts and ramps in most places and certainly in all the newer buildings. There are a number of restaurants but no coffee or tea in the Temple area as these are considered stimulants and not encouraged in the Mormon religion.In the summer months of June, July and August on Wednesday evening there are talks about the gardens which begin at 8pm in June and July and 7.30 in August. The topics vary and the talks are given by experts and last about an hour. If you are interested there it may be best to contact the Temple Square visit for details.Throughout the Square there were huge trees providing shade and this balanced the planting around the square. There were shrubs both flowering and non flowering. The flowering cherry blossom trees near the temple were also a real pleasure to see and lifted the solid greyness of the rather imposing solid temple.As you can tell I was most taken with the gardens around the Temple square are and take my hat off to the gardeners and volunteers who create these lovely gardens for all visitors to enjoy. I am not sure my photos will do the gardens justice but they are really just small snapshots of what you can see in the gardens themselves.
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