USU and Park City Nursery sees the power in flowers |

USU and Park City Nursery sees the power in flowers

Workshop covers local blooms and climates

Spring has sprung and many Summit County homeowners are already sprucing up their flower gardens.

Others, before they commit to breaking ground, may have some questions about what types of flowers will thrive in the area’s different microclimates.

The Flower Power workshop that will be from 4-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, at the Swaner EcoCenter is designed to answer those questions.

The event, which will cost $5 at the door, will feature instruction from Sophy Kohler, the new owner of Park City Nursery, and Utah State University professor and horticulturist Helen Muntz.

The two will cover issues such as soil composition, flowerbed options and the Summit County climate, Kohler told The Park Record.

“Helen and I have chatted and decided what the two of us want to cover,” Kohler said. “I think she will talk about the technical side of gardening, because she has a lot of knowledge of soil types, irrigation and water usage.”

Kohler will discuss aesthetics and what choices residents can make depending of what neighborhoods they live in.

“The nursery’s slogan is ‘We know what grows,’ and we’re definitely looking forward to getting people excited about gardening,” Kohler said. “I’m excited to talk to people about how to create a successful garden no matter where they live here — whether it is Jeremy Ranch, Pinebrook, Old Ranch Road, Promontory, you name it.”

Summit County is home to an array of separate and unique ecosystems.

“For example, we have a spread of zones in terms of how cold it gets in the winter,” Kohler said. “Some of us live in exposed neighborhoods. Some of us live in alpine regions and some of us live in high-desert landscapes.”

Since the workshop’s focus is flowers, Kohler and Muntz will talk about annuals and perennials.

“We will talk about amping up container gardens, pots and barrels,” Kohler said.

The workshop will also focus on native flowers.

“We will talk about drought tolerant flowers and ones that take on high winds,” Kohler said. “We will tell you what will work, and we will bring some specimens in and will run through what we have found successful here.”

The workshop is the brainchild of Park City resident Rebecca Marriott Champion, who recently completed a Utah State University master gardening program.

“Utah State University has excellent programs in all kinds of areas that deal with plants and trees and plants,” Marriott Champion said. “I had the idea that a lot of people who were in their teens, 20s and early 30s didn’t really understand perennial- and annual-flower gardening. So, I thought we could teach people about the flowers that grow in Summit County.”

Marriott Champion was a longtime member of the Park City Garden Club, where she learned about local botany.

“We used to take walks through Old Town, Thaynes Canyon and Park Meadows to learn about and understand the types of flowers that grew up here,” she said. “I thought it would be a great idea to get with Swaner and see if they wanted to do a flower workshop, with a Utah State University professor and the new owner of Park City Nursery.

“The people at Swaner agreed to host the workshop if I would pay for it. So, I said, of course.”

Although Marriott Champion initially reached out to Kohler in the early spring, the two didn’t meet until after the Swaner EcoCenter asked Kohler if she would be interested in teaching at the event.

“As a new owner of an established and well-loved [nursery] in the community, I wasn’t about to say no,” Kohler said with a laugh.

Kohler’s love for plants and flowers blossomed while growing up on her paternal and maternal grandmothers’ respective gardens in Vermont and Virginia.

“That was our playground, and I don’t think there is a better place to play than outside,” she said. “If you’re fortunate enough to have fruits, vegetables and flowers to experiment with, I think it makes it all that much more interesting.

“Even when I lived in the city, I had a window box. So, this is a hobby that I have been able to carve out.”

Marriott Champion credited her grandmother for cultivating her admiration for flowers.

“She was a bonzai and flower gardener and would take me to a bunch of places in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and showed me all the different types of gardening there was,” Marriott Champion said. “She also took me into a lot of National Parks to see the wonderful plants.”

Kohler said she hopes next Thursday’s Flower Power workshop won’t just be a one-time affair.

“We would love to ignite some interest and do some further workshops, either at the nursery or at the EcoCenter, if the community has an appetite for them,” she said.

Marriott Champion concurred.

“I told the staff at the Swaner EcoCenter that I would be willing to sponsor something like this every May,” she said. “I think that would be very productive to do.”

Park City Nursery owner Sophy Kohler and Utah State University Horticulturist Helen Muntz will give a Flower Power workshop from 4-6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18, at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive at Kimball Junction. Cost is $5 at the door. RSVPs are required. Call 435-797-8939 or email to RSVP. For information, visit

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