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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 1:30 PM

Edith Goes to Salt Lake Conference

Edith Goes to Salt Lake Conference
by Edith Isidoro-Mills -- I recently arrived home from the Garden Communicators’ symposium.  This year's symposium was in Salt Lake City.  Most of the Garden Communicators’ symposiums have been in humid climates where their gardens are lush.  This time we visited fewer estate gardens and public gardens.  Instead, the message of this symposium was more about water conservation and local food production.  I have too much information to cover in one column.  So, I will break it up into two. I will focus in this column on water conservation.  Salt Lake City, like many other communities in the arid western half of the United States is facing future projected water shortages.  Lawns, which consume large quantities of water, are still quite popular in Salt Lake City. Local officials are working to change this and one of them was heavily involved in planning this Garden Communicators’ symposium. Cynthia Bee, an outreach coordinator for the the Jordan Valley Water Conservation District, was responsible for much of the local arrangements.  She made sure water conservation was a part of the the tours and the workshops in this year’s symposium. I can’t remember ever attending one of these symposiums where we toured a manufacturer instead of a garden or nursery.  Cynthia included a manufacturer of parts for irrigation systems.  This particular manufacturer, Orbit, specializes in sprinkler and drip system parts marketed at places like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart.  Although professional landscapers might use their parts, these parts designed with the homeowner in mind. We had a demonstration of how Orbit has designed a system you can manage using your smartphone.  After that demonstration, we toured the manufacturing floor. I was hoping we would see some gardens with native plants but Utah State University’s demonstration garden was in the process of renovation.  We did however get to see their research plots.  One of their plant breeders talked to us about collecting native propagation materials and the process for isolating and developing promising new plant varieties for homeowners to use in their landscapes. Everywhere we went you saw whole neighborhoods with nothing but lawn for landscaping.  Cynthia is working to change this.  She gave a workshop on the courses she offers that show local homeowners new ways to landscape their yards that are less water consumptive.  In Utah, they are referring to this landscaping as “Local Scaping”.  The emphasis is shrinking their lawn and planting water thrifty herbaceous perennials and woody plants such as trees and shrubs.  The idea is gradually replacing all that lawn starting from the edges. Over time, all that remains of the lawn is what the homeowner needs for recreation and entertaining.  If you only entertain indoors or on a patio with a barbecue and picnic table, you might not need a lawn. Stay tuned for my next column when I will tell about the local food production emphasis at the Garden Communicators’ symposium this year.     Read more local news – return to the home page at www.thefallonpost.org/ Support your local news source, make a contribution today. www.thefallonpost.org/support-our-work/ Never miss a local public meeting – sign up for the Friday email and get stories delivered straight to your inbox. www.thefallonpost.org/sign-up