A symphony of beauty and color awaits visitors to Temple Square as the 159th General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opens at 10 a.m. today in the Tabernacle.
Like a well-orchestrated symphony, the artistically designed gardens are planted to bring a harmonious blend of beauty to Temple Square and the adjacent block surrounding church administration buildings.Working throughout the year, Peter Lassig, Hellmut Bork and a crew of other landscape gardeners have prepared Temple Square and adjoining grounds to delight the thousands of visitors to the city.
About 500 varieties of flowers are used each year, causing some to wonder if perhaps the gardeners are trying to start a miniature arboretum. A total of 130,000 flowers are grown every six months in church greenhouses in Salt Lake City.
Regarding the arboretum, "Nothing can be further from the truth. Our purpose is to create something spontaneous, that can live where it is placed. We want the compositions (of flowers) to be spontaneous and to sparkle with light," said Lassig, a landscape architect who oversees gardens on Temple Square. He has worked there 33 years.
With just 14 full-time staffers and fewer part-time workers, the gardeners achieve remarkable results by early spring because they start in the fall.
Flowers in bloom or on the verge of bursting into color include pansies, violas, violets, primroses, aubrietias, daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, tulips, hyacinths, scillas, English daisies, forsythias and a number of flowering trees, including magnolias and flowering crab, plum and cherry trees.
Bork, a former brick mason who got his start on Temple Square in 1980 by helping to install and maintain Christmas lighting, has designed a spectacular garden at the North Visitors Center patio planters.
Lassig described it as an "orchestrated harmony of six different kinds of bulbs, of 15 types of pansies, all singing the same melody but in their own voice. The harmonies are incredible."
Bork, who meticulously chose bulbs that bloomed into a harvest of blues, yellows, pinks and other colors, said he never thought it would be possible to work on Temple Square. "I didn't dream of working here _ it seemed unreachable."
The work of Lassig, Bork and others _ including Ty Nielsen, Gary Hansen, Liz Gurr, Sheldon Izatt, Larry Tavenner, Scott Barben, Reese Nelson, David Hillock, Esther Truitt, Mike Andersen, Elaine Naylor and Heinz Jelitto _ is symbolic. Their work requires a lot of planning and advance work to reap the beauties that abound on the temple grounds adjoining areas throughout the year.
Several conference addresses probably will carry a message of the need for another type of planning and work to realize future blessings. But the work of the gardeners must not call attention to the designers or gardeners but to the Creator, who "is the author of all beauty," Lassig added.