May 23, 2011
Spokane Temple Tulips and Daffodils
Here are some photos of the spring bulb plantings at my church's nearby temple, taken in mid-May. The yellow tulips above are 'Jap Groot'.
It's been nearly two years since I was asked to work with the temple landscaping committee as a volunteer, and it's always nice to see our work paying off with beautiful displays.
Our church currently has 134 temples scattered all over the world, and all of them are expected to have beautiful grounds surrounding the elegant buildings.
New temples are open to the public during open houses, but after dedication only church members in good standing are allowed inside. The grounds remain open to anyone who wants to enjoy a peaceful setting.
Large temples - like the ones in Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles - have crews of paid workers to take care of the grounds. Little temples like the one in Spokane are cared for by volunteers.
It's a lot of work taking care of the temple grounds! Each year volunteers donate hundreds of hours of labor doing things like pulling weeds, watering, deadheading, planting annuals, etc.
A big part of my job is rounding up volunteers to help with temple work projects. This task is hard for me, because I get nervous calling busy people to ask them to get their hands dirty working at the temple grounds.
In the past year I have also helped the main coordinators pick new plants and draw out new perennial beds, which has been a lot of fun. We're working with a Master Composter to add lots organic material to improve the soil.
I earned my Horticulture degree from Brigham Young University, which is heavily subsidized by my church. So it feels great to use that education as a volunteer at the temple.
It's helpful that I live just a mile away from the temple, so I have experience working with the same soil and microclimate challenges in my own garden.
Oh, and we have plenty of challenges at the temple grounds. It's definitely not a garden of Eden! Besides thistles and thorns and other weeds, we have to plan for deer eating plants outside the fence.
Supposedly this area was once a riverbed, so the original soil is poor, rocky clay. Since we're at the bottom of the Spokane Valley, the cold air sinks down here and gives us early fall and late spring frosts, plus extra cold temperatures in the winter.
In addition, the temple site gets a lot of drying winds. And the areas immediately south and west of the temple get intensely hot in the summer from sun bouncing off the white granite walls.
These harsh conditions have made refinements necessary in the twelve years since the Spokane temple was built. But the landscape is getting better each year as plantings - especially trees and large shrubs - mature and give the grounds a fuller look.
Soon the huge beds of peonies will be in bloom, and next weekend we're planting hundreds of annuals that will make a great show all summer. I'll try to remember to get some more pictures later in the season to post.