Students replace pencils with shovels and hoes

A force of 1,400 college students swept through Church gardens on Temple Square and the Church Office Building plaza Oct. 8, removing annuals and preparing for new plantings.

They were followed the next Saturday, Oct. 15, by volunteers from the Monument Park, Monument Park North and Bonneville stakes, who planted pansies and bulbs that will color the gardens next spring.Supervising the volunteer efforts was Christena Gates, a Church service missionary who serves as garden tour director.

"This work," she said, "used to be done just by the gardeners, but it came to be too much work. The gardens are bigger now, so to get it done and beat the weather is a tricky thing."

Approximately 200 workers from the Salt Lake stakes took advantage of a break in weekend rainstorms to do the fall planting of pansies and bulbs. They began work about 8:30 in the morning, and finished at 11:30 a.m., shortly after another rain storm moved in.

"They were dedicated people to work in that cold weather," Sister Gates said. "It was not under the best conditions. But they worked hard; they did the work of 600 people."

The flowers and bulbs had been set out near the beds during the week by Church gardeners and were all planted during the three-hour project.

Their task was helped by the work the students had done - clearing out the beds and turning over the soil - the week before.

"I wanted to use BYU students; they're good kids and they're smart," Sister Gates said. "It was a wonderful thing to have them come and strip the gardens in just three hours."

She added that some of them, especially foreign students who only knew Temple Square from pictures they saw as they were growing up, were in awe at the opportunity to work in the Church gardens.

Sue Ann Cochran, a garden tour host, made arrangements through priesthood leaders to get help from the Brigham Young University 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 14th, 15th and 16th stakes and the Orem Utah Student Stake that includes students at BYU and Utah Valley State College.

Gardeners and garden guides were trained in advance as supervisors to handle the huge army of help. Each supervisor took 20-30 workers to a specific plot in the gardens and showed them what to pull out and how to do it, and then they turned the dirt to prepare it for the next planting.

"They were incredible, and so willing to work," Sister Gates said.

In addition, about 150 members of the BYU group were given a different task, working on the Temple Square Christmas lights. They sang Christmas carols as they worked in an area underneath the Tabernacle, according to Sister Gates. Replacement bulbs for the strings of lights had arrived late from a supplier, but through the help of the students, the work was caught up.

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