Over the Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to visit a newly opened Desert Demonstration Garden in St. George, Utah. The Red Hills Desert Garden located at 375 North Red Hills Parkway, in St. George, Utah.
Built on the red sandstone hills north of downtown St. George, the Red Hills Desert Garden is the first Desert Demonstration Garden in Utah. It’s purpose is to educate visitors about water-wise landscaping, including using native and low-water use plants. Similar demonstration gardens can be found throughout the Southwest in communities large and small, alike.
The Red Hills Garden opened to the public a few days before I visited it and it was already being enjoyed by families and couples, young and old. There seems to be something for everyone. Whether it be the family gardener looking for plant ideas, families looking for somewhere fun and interesting to visit, or young couples looking for a nice place to hang out and get to know one another better.
One of the first features the many visitors will see upon entering the garden area is the waterfall, which is the beginning of the stream that meanders through the garden.
The Garden uses water from the nearby Virgin River to recreate a stream which will be home to native fish, which will be viewable from a sunken viewing area that is sure to enthrall children of all ages. The fish viewing area is located beneath the lattice canopy seen below.
The stream is visible from nearly every area of the garden and adds to the overall beauty and ambiance created by the different areas of the garden.
Near the sunken, fish viewing area, large concrete walls have been built to mimic the regions Navajo Sandstone cliffs and canyons. Built into these walls are small areas that provide places for native plants, grasses and other plants to be displayed.
The use of yellow flowering plants throughout the garden “pop,” against the red sand and sandstone rocks. Including a generous use of yellow ice plants, like the one bellow.
Pedestrian bridges crisscross over the stream as part of the numerous trails that disect the gardens and allow for a close-up look at the fish and other animals in and near the stream.
Different areas of the garden, highlight different types of plants and are clearly marked with simple, brown, metal letters used to define the various sections of the garden and the types of plants found in those areas.
It would be hard to choose which color of flower was the most eye-catching against the red sand of the garden. The yellow flowers, like the Yellow Ice Plant stood out, especially at a distance, and drew you to them. But the purple Salvia was perhaps the most stunning on this visit. The bright green leaves with the tall purple spikes against the red sand of the garden was dramatic.
Areas of the garden include the Yucca, Native, Agave, Hesperaloe, and Cactus. Each named area features a large variety of plants related to the garden area.
The yellow spines of the barrel cactus surrounding the “Cactus” lettering make a nice contrast to the gardens red sandy soil. Other cactus were flowering, adding red and pink color to the garden.
Throughout the garden, different types of plants, flowers and bushes are repeated to provide an inviting and beautiful landscape.
If you have a local demonstration garden, be sure to visit it at different times of the year to see what will bloom in your area in the Spring, Summer, and Fall and to see what plants will continue to add shape and color to your yard during Winter months.
Over the next few years, as the many plants mature at the Red Hills Desert Garden, the garden will simply get more and more beautiful and attract a greater number of birds and animals, which will only enhance the garden’s appeal.
The garden is destined to become a local gem for the St. George community and will certainly become a familiar background for family pictures, wedding and bridal pictures and prom pictures, as local residents and visitors discover this new addition to the St. George area.
The Red Hills Desert Garden is open every day during daylight hours.
To learn more about the Red Hills Desert Garden visit the websites below:
- Washington County Water Conservancy District – Red Hills Desert Garden
- St. George News – Red Hills Desert Garden opens to public
- Fox13 Salt Lake City – Conservation garden featuring desert landscapes in St. George aims to educate visitors