Flowers growing in front of the Lion House are more than just a beautiful sight for passersby to enjoy.
The blossoms, collectively called the Young Women Values Garden, are "hopefully helping to arm the young women of the Church against the influences of the world," said Ardeth G. Kapp, general president of the Young Women.The Young Women program teaches basic principles and ideals, but "until these principles and ideals become internalized and accepted by our young women as a way of life, they don't change lives or impact behavior," Pres. Kapp pointed out. "Therefore, in an attempt to make the Young Women values a foundation for our youths, we are appealing to their natural interest in symbols."
The garden, which will be dedicated in September, is only one of several symbols introduced during the past few years. In addition to jewelry, certificates and songs, seven values with accompanying colors have been introduced as part of the Young Women program.
"The idea is that when the young women see these colors they will be reminded of the value that has become important in their lives," Pres. Kapp said. The garden has been planted in those seven colors: white for faith, blue for divine nature, red for individual worth, green for knowledge, orange for choice and accountability, yellow for good works, and purple for integrity.
The idea for the garden began several months ago as plans for the 120th anniversary of the Young Women began to develop. "We wanted a living monument," explained Pres. Kapp. "We also wanted something that would depict youth and vitality and beauty, as well as something that reflects the variety of differences and personalities in our young women worldwide. And we wanted something universal, something that every culture could identify with."
A flower garden seemed like the perfect idea. "It has the sense of being inevitable," commented Church gardener Peter Lassig, who worked with another gardener, Larry Tavenner, on the project. "It was just a great idea.
"The Young Women leaders were a bit hesitant when they approached us about the garden," Lassig remembered. "They didn't know if we could make a garden out of seven different colors. But we told them we could make a lovely garden."
The location in front of the Lion House was chosen because that is where Brigham Young officially organized the Young Women program more than a century ago. Lassig and Tavenner suggested seven large pots be placed in front of the building. "We have a color assigned to every pot," Lassig explained. Flowers in the pots are replanted as needed, so the garden is always bright and colorful.
Leaders are encouraging young women throughout the world to plant their own values garden, either individually or as a class. "We've had some classes plant a values garden around their meetinghouse and then tend it during the summer as a class project," Pres. Kapp noted.
The act of planting a garden is actually in accordance with the first young women value, which is faith, said Pres. Kapp. "When you plant a garden, you are doing so with faith that those seeds will grow," she explained. "We have felt that the experience of planting and tending flowers could not only be an experience in beautification, but also an experience in faith. We hope that this example at Church headquarters might be considered a worthwhile experience for our young women throughout the world."