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The purple penstemon is a draught-hearty plant that is native to high-altitude desert climates such as Park City. (Photo by Linda Karz)
When Recycle Utah volunteer Linda Karz and executive director Insa Riepen organized the first native plant sale, more than a decade a go, the initial idea was to educate members of the community about these plants, so they could understand the options available in landscaping in this area.

This fell right into the nonprofit organization's mission to "empower people to lead sustainable lives."

The goal for the plant sale hasn't changed, because new people move to the area each year, said Karz.

"We are a community of transients," Karz told The Park Record. "A lot of people have moved to Park City from places that have greener plants than we do. Park City's population has grown so much and we've had an influx of second-home owners that we're always trying to keep ourselves ahead so the new people do understand that these options exist. That is definitely a challenge to make people aware of this," she said.

So, getting them to understand that we live in a high-mountain desert climate is important when they are thinking about their gardens."

This year, Recycle Utah, 1951 Woodbine Way, will host its annual plant sale on Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. until noon, and Karz hopes people will show up, buy some plants and ask a lot of questions.

"All the plants will be provided by Wildland Nursery out of Joseph, Utah," Karz said. "Owner Jannett Warner has been with us for years.


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We have paired her with other nurseries throughout the years, and she has a huge plant selection and knows the area really well."

Some of the plants that will be offered at the plant sale include mountain ash, thin leaf alder, serviceberry, chokecherry, oak leaf sumac, fern bush, penstemons, native columbine, arrow leaf balsam root and buckwheat.

"We will also have other displays and information on site about noxious weeds and educational and garden-care tips," Karz said. "We will also have plenty of volunteers who will be able to answer any concerns."

The main issue is the concept of living in a high-altitude desert.

"When most people think of desert, they think of sand and a hot sun in the south," Karz said. "But Park City is really located in a high-mountain desert, so the types of plants that survive best are different than the plants that thrive in the many different places community members have moved here from."

Another key component is summed by the word xeriscape.

"One big hurdle is for everyone to get over is how that word has been changed to 'zeroscape' that when you use that term, people think about just rocks and cacti and no flowers," Karz said. "That's just not true. We want to show people that having a conservation-minded and good landscaping is possible, without just showing a bunch of rocks."

Karz said the proof is on the mountainsides.

"I tell people to look up and look around," she said. "The hills of Park City are alive with beautiful plants.

"If you hike up the Spiro Trail right now, the flowers of the serviceberry and the clamatis are just incredible, and that yellow flower that is all over the canyons as you drive down to Salt Lake is called the Arrow leaf balsam root, and it's just beautiful," Karz said. "So, the notion that you can't have a beautiful garden without irrigating is just false."

While the main purpose of the sale is to education the public, there is a second and third purpose, Karz said.

"We would like to create a demand for these types of plants so local nurseries will start carrying them," she said. "There are native plants and draught-tolerant plants that aren't indigenous to the area that will can still be incorporated into the landscape and look lovely and do well here."

Thirdly, Karz wants to shed light on water use.

"I think, nationwide, people are becoming more aware about conserving water, because I think that dialogue is more prevalent these days," she said. "We feel the community needs a much broader conversation about our own water use.

"It's a big topic, and conservation is a big part of it, because it can play a vital role in our community's future," Karz said. "That's why there is no greater time to have a plant sale like this, even if it's just for the education that goes along with it."

Recycle Utah's annual native plant sale will be held on Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. until noon, at 1951 Woodbine Way. Admission is free.