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Week Six - 35 Years of Growing

Submitted: Dec. 28, 2020, 2:31 p.m.
By: Kate Randall, Mkt/Communications Specialist

Last week was the sixth and final week of the Garden's 35 Years of Growing, 35 Days of Giving Annual Appeal Campaign that began on November 27. We finished up our themed gardens stories featuring the Natural Area, Wildflower Meadow, and Water Conservation Garden. Then, a few words about how the Garden continues to grow in spite of COVID-19 difficulties. Longtime Garden volunteer and donor, JoLynda Stillman, shares her Red Butte Garden experience. And lastly, a New Year message from Red Butte Garden Executive Director, Jimmy Turner.

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View of Red Butte peak above the Natural Area of Red Butte Garden. photo: Jason Baker

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Fall color in the Red Butte Garden Natural Area. photo: Jason Baker

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Garden guest hikers on the Seepy Hollow trail. photo: RBG

Red Butte Garden Natural Area

Red Butte Garden has approximately 70 acres of Natural Area with 3.75 miles of trails in the foothills which makes us unique when compared to other botanical gardens. It includes diverse plant and wildlife habitats— riparian, grass-forb, and Oak-Maple communities.

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Development of the Wildflower Meadow, located at the lower entrance of the Garden's Natural Area, began in 2011. The first three years were spent eradicating aggressive weeds. photo: Neal Dombrowski

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A palette of bunch grasses, native perennials, and other low-water meadow plants, including spring-blooming bulbs, were planted and established. photo: Kate Randall

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Over the last 10 years the Wildflower Meadow has evolved into a naturalized assemblage of a wide variety of native plants, and a home to a diverse animal and pollinator population. photo: Kate Randall

Red Butte Garden Wildflower Meadow

Words by Neal Dombrowski, Red Butte Garden Horticulturist

The visual transformation of the Wildflower Meadow throughout the year begins with early bulbs shooting beyond the greening grasses and perennial foliage in early spring. Meadow Camas (Camassia quamash), Wild Hyacinth (Triteleia grandiflora), Mariposa Lily (Calochortus sp.), and Pink Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) are some of the bulbs that can be seen blooming in the Meadow. Later in the spring and summer, Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), Giant Sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) start to mound in shades of green as Utah Sweetvetch (Hedysarum boreale), Blue Flax (Linum perenne), Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera), and Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa) are open for business to pollinators.

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Red Butte Garden broke ground in 2015 to build the Water Conservation Garden. photo: Jason Baker

Water Conservation Garden

Water Conservation Garden main entrance. photo: Dave Titensor

Water Conservation Garden Path

Water Conservation Garden upper teir in bloom. photo: Dave Titensor

Red Butte Garden Water Conservation Garden

The three-acre Water Conservation Garden, opened in 2017, is our newest and largest cultivated garden. It contains a variety of terraced, themed gardens which demonstrate various low-water gardening techniques and planting schemes. Situated in the foothills, the view of the valley and mountains can be breathtaking. Learn more about the Water Conservation Garden.

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BOOtanical in the Garden, a month-long free daily admission Halloween festival made possible by a grant from the Utah State Legislature through the Cares Act administered by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, replaced our annual Garden After Dark event in October 2020. photo: RBG

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After closing on March 13 due to COVID-19, Red Butte Garden re-opened on June 29 with a new online tiered ticketing system. The Garden is part of the University of Utah and adheres to all the guidelines issued by the CDC, the University, and Salt Lake City.

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All the Garden's hands-on classes and workshops were cancelled in 2020. Thanks to a Salt Lake City Community Partners grant, we have been able to move many classes, including Culinary Medicine Cooking, online and on-demand. photo: Kate Randall

Bouncing Back During the COVID-19 Crisis

When the Garden closed to the public on March 13, most administrative staff began working remotely from home and have been ever since. Cuts to the Garden's budget, staff hours, and wages became necessary because of the cancellation of the 2020 Outdoor Concert Series, Annual Spring Plant Sale, summer camps, hands-on classes, Garden After Dark, and private events. During this time, Red Butte Garden began designing and offering online classes and at-home Boredom Buster activities, we produced a new month-long event called BOOtanical, and developed new ways to reach teachers and students. The Visitor Center was retrofitted to adhere to social distancing policies and reopened on June 29. Our rock star Horticulture team has worked diligently keeping the Garden beautiful in spite of limited hours and less volunteer assistance. Check out Red Butte Garden's Virtual Resources.

Longtime Garden volunteer, Concert Club member, and donor, JoLynda Stillman, talks about her Red Butte Garden experience and why she decided to include the Garden in her will. Learn more about Planned Giving and Corporate Partnerships with the Garden.


Moving all the way from Australia to Utah, Jimmy Turner joined the Garden in March 2020 as our new Executive Director—right as we shut down and also experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake and many aftershocks. We are glad he stayed!

Learn more about the 35 Years of Growing, 35 Days of Giving campaign.

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