LOGAN — It doesn't take an army to plant the 7,000 flowers and tend the massive expanse of greenery at the Logan LDS Temple each year — it takes a lifetime of experience.
And now, after 32 years of trimming, clipping and mowing, Logan resident Gordon Bingham is retiring but not letting his beautification skills or his gardening shears get rusty.
The 68-year-old still enjoys planting seeds and watching things grow and continues using his talents around the neighborhood to spruce up the yards of widows, young and old.
"I find there's lots of opportunities out there to serve, and it's a joy to do so," he said. "The more I get to do it, the more I enjoy it."
When he's not putting bulbs in the ground, Bingham enjoys hiking in the mountains and volunteering with the Common Ground Outdoor Adventures organization, helping disabled adults get the most out of their lives, too. A chance to serve his friends and neighbors, he explains, brings more satisfaction than time-consuming hobbies.
"We go bicycling, canoeing, hiking and do hands-on stuff with them," he said. "It's always motivating to see people happy."
Bingham's passion, though, is planting and growing. He's paid for his skilled work at the temple but says the gratification from his labor comes from serving the thousands of temple visitors who stop to admire the flower beds and manicured lawns.
The temple is a sacred place to followers of the LDS faith and a location to meditate both indoors and out. For Bingham, coming to work each week for the past three decades never dulled the significance of the location.
"It was always unique to me," he said. "I've always loved to serve the people and see things grow and become more beautiful."
Bingham has a bachelor's degree in horticulture and agronomy. He got his start in landscaping as a greenhouse operator at BYU, where he grew flowers and plants for the school's Provo campus and the nearby temple. When he was hired as head grounds?keeper in Logan, Bingham ran a one-man show. Today, the 9-acre site is managed by two full-time and two part-time employees.
The Garland, Box Elder County, native starts his workday promptly at 7 a.m. and often has to be reminded when it's time to quit. Unlike most jobs, the changing seasons bring a daily work order as different as that day's weather.
"March, for example, is a big pruning time," he said. "I've always enjoyed pruning the trees and shrubs."
He jokingly compares his trimming tactics to the arboreal traits of a primate.
"I'm sort of the monkey in the area," he said. "I climb all the trees I can, and if I'm not up in the branches, I'm down on the ground on my knees planting flowers."
His wife, Judith, prefers he keep his feet planted.
"He's been grounded," she said with a laugh.
During the winter months, Bingham and his crew shovel snow and ice from sidewalks. Fall is the time to prepare for snowy weather and to plant tulips and pansies, and summertime means a lot of mowing.
"Of course there's a lot of raking, mowing, fertilizing and watering," he said.
In fact, Bingham usually gives the temple lawns a double mowing — once to cut and a second pass to mulch the trimmings back into the soil.
Planning for 5,200 square feet of flower beds means Bingham's spring planting season actually starts around Christmas time, when he sits down to draft and design the huge garden plots before placing orders for hundreds of annual flowers at local greenhouses.
The results of Bingham's yearlong labor can be seen every day at the temple. He says patrons often compliment him for his work but he never lets it go to his head.2 comments on this story
"People do make comments," he said. "But it's more an inner satisfaction knowing that I've done my best and hoping it's good enough."
Now, with retirement officially just days away, it's time to spend more time with family and a growing number of grandchildren.
"It's been hard to make a switch," he said. "From serving others and enjoying plants and people to taking the time to think about my family and taking other opportunities to serve."
Bingham's last day at the Logan Temple is June 1.