Recycle Utah readies its annual native plant sale
Ryan Summerlin June 10, 2014
Recycle Utah, a Park City-based nonprofit that works with the public to lead sustainable lives, has hosted the annual native plant sale for the past 13 years.
The idea was and still is to help community members design drought-resistant gardens and conserve water usage.
The mission of the sale, which will take place on Saturday, June 14, is to educate people to understand the type of climate they live in and the types of landscapes that would thrive the best in these areas, said Linda Karz, a Recycle Utah volunteer who organizes the event.
"It’s interesting, at this point, we would have liked to havw converted everyone who live up here to do xeriscape gardening and use native plants, but, of course, the community has grown so much," Karz told The Park Record. "There are always new people coming in and then there’s the fact that we’re a transient community as well. We have a lot of part-time residents, so our mission, is still very much relevant every year."
Still, Karz is pleased at how far the public’s interest in xeriscaping and water conservation has grown since the sale started in 2001.
"In the beginning, there weren’t a lot of people who actually carried these types of plants at the nurseries," she said. "They were all very hard to find, but now the various nurseries around town have grown their selection over the years."
Also, the state has taken an interest in xeriscaping, according to Karz.
"If you go down to the Sale Lake airport, you will see they have used all native and drought-tolerant species," she said. "It’s an idea that has taken hold, particularly when water conservation has become a hot topic of conversation these days."
As always, Recycle Utah will team with Wildland Nursery, which is located in St. Joseph, a small town in Central Utah, for the sale.
"They’ve grown wildflowers from seeds they have collected in the region over the years," Karz explained. "These plants are used to alkaline soils and are acclimated to our climate. So you can be sure these plants aren’t coming out of the Northwest from some lush place in Oregon."
One of the interesting aspects of xeriscaping, especially in Park City is dealing with an array of microclimates in the area.
"For example, you can find apple trees in Old Town and thriving lilacs because the area is a little more protected and doesn’t get as cold at night as it does out in Silver Springs," Karz said.
The climates can even differ on one property.
"It all depends on what are faces which direction," Karz said. "There are plants that will grow on the east side of my house that won’t grow on the west side of my house.
"So the first question we ask when people come to the sale is where they live," she said. "That way we can teach about plant placement as well during the sale and guide them to the plants that will work better in their situation."
New this year will be tubs of locally made compost, which is a favorite topic for Insa Riepen, executive director of Recycle Utah, Karz said.
"Composting is so easy," according to Karz. "I have six compost piles at my house. I’m a very lazy composter. I toss stuff in there and know eventually it does decompose."
Although Karz’s method takes longer than most, she still sees the fruits of her labor.
"When I amend areas of my garden with the compost, I make the soil friendlier to certain plants," she said. "That said, a lot of native plants will thrive in a composted area and situation, but they won’t necessarily need it."
The reason is most of the native plants are used to the high-alkaline, rocky and sandy soils.
"Penstemons, for example, don’t like to be watered," Karz said. "If they are watered, they will produce a flourishing green plant, but not bloom very nicely. So, the penstemon happens to be one of my favorite plants because it thrives on neglect. The same can be said about the globemallow."
Karz said people who are skeptical about their ability to grow native-plant gardens have approached her and she always tells them to look to the hillsides.
"They see how green, beautiful and lush these areas are," she said. "I then ask if someone is irrigating that area, and the answer is always no. So, I say to them that creating a beautiful garden is a matter of planting the correct plants that like it here."
The sale will include tables of perennials, native shrubs and some trees.
"We will have volunteers on hand to answer people’s questions," Karz said.
Another reason Recycle Utah feels the plant sale is important is because these types of gardens conserve water.
"I don’t think people have an idea of how much water they use on watering regular gardens and lawns," Karz said. "Utahns, on average, use between 70 and 75 percent of their water on outdoor irrigation. So using drought-resistant plants is a financial incentive. Planting a native garden will save people thousands of dollars a year."
Recycle Utah, 1951 Woodbine Way, will host its annual native plant sale on Saturday, June 14, from 9 a.m. until noon. The event is open to the public. For more information, visit www.recycleutah.org.