Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Sawtooth Botanical Garden Gala Toasts Edward Scissorhands and Beautiful Blooms
Margaret Walker and Stephanie Mennen check out the blooms in the Sawtooth Botanical Garden.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019


 A handful of garden patrons—gimlets in hand—stood over a battery-powered robotic lawnmower sitting at the edge of the flower beds at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

 “We call it Edward Scissorhands,” Kim Chaplin told the Gimlets in the Garden patrons as they looked down on the mower donated by East Fork Landscape that stood about six inches high and two feet across.

 “It rolls around the lawn trimming the grass. And it's stopped by a sunken wire around the perimeter of the lawn. Only problem is it doesn’t do weeding and deadheading,” added Chaplin, the garden’s new education coordinator.

Rasberrys catered this year’s Gimlets in the Garden.

 It does, however, scare away elk.

 And that set off the lightbulb in Norma Douglas’ head. Douglas, who lives nearby, has not figured out how to keep the elk from munching her flowers, despite the use of such things as repellants. She’s even encouraged Idaho Fish and Game officials to try shooting darts laced with birth control into the resident elk but was rebuffed because they said they were afraid a man might eat the portion of meat containing the birth control.

So, learning about this latest trick to keeping elk at bay was something to consider—an example of the resources the Sawtooth Botanical Garden provide.

 “This garden is spectacular,” added Candice Stark, who moved to Sun Valley from the Silicon Valley with her husband Richard a year ago. “It provides inspiration, education about flowers in our region. It’s a beautiful serene garden with wonderful wildflower walks, the famous Bug Zoo…what a treasure and resource for our community!”

Kimberly and Kirk Peterson found inspiration for their own garden, which was on the Sawtooth Botanical Garden’s Garden Tour this year.

Others seemed to agree as they opened their pocketbooks to support the garden during the Gala.

 Trudy Schneider offered $6,250 for a New Moon Dinner with telescopes for night sky viewing; then the Garden’s Board Chair Susan Flynt matched her.

A vacation stay at a home in Punta Mita, Mexico, brought $8,000.  And the Starks offered their Gimlet home for a wine tasting and apps for 10.

“The garden is a promise of tomorrow, the hope of growth year after year,” Flynt told the crowd. “the garden brings hope and joy…for 25 years. It’s a place for inspiration, contemplation…It’s brought hope and joy to people for 25 years as it connects people and nature.”

Norma Douglas catches some of the evening’s last rays of sunshine as the sun gets ready to dip behind the mountains.

Jeanne Cassell, who has led wildflower walks for the garden for 15 years, said that the garden was started on a horse pasture so it was well fertilized. It didn’t hurt that it has water rights and a creek running through it.

 It was initially established as a community garden where valley residents could have a plot to grow their own vegetables, a place where they could also order produce through Community Sustainable Agriculture.

 And, when the Board decided it would be of more use to the community as a demonstration “botanical” garden, its members began developing beds.

 “We had a demonstration garden of raspberries of different kinds for several years, and plots of different kinds of grasses to help folks decide which kind they wanted to plant in their yards,” said Cassell.

Board Member Jody Stanislaw and Kat Vanden Heuvel try out their disco moves to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive.”

 Gradually, slow-growing native plants were added. Then, drought-tolerant plants.

“Now we are installing underground watering systems, so that this not only saves water but makes the plants grow better,” Cassell said. “Things are really maturing and filling in, and we have added a buckwheat garden and redone Carol’s wildflower garden, which had become overcome with weeds.”

 The fruit trees and the vines have matured to be beautiful additions to the Garden, and the Sun Valley Garden Club recently added plants to a connector garden behind the greenhouse.       

“And of course, the Tibetan Prayer wheel is our crowning jewel as one of only two to be found in North America blessed by the Dalai Lama!” said Cassell.

 The garden attracted hundreds of people this summer, including migrant children who spent part of their summer camp learning about the garden’s edible plants.

Chaplin says she aims to concentrate more on therapeutic gardening this year with such events as yoga in the garden. Hillary Anderson, for instance, will offer a Garden Feng Shui class on Sept. 28, which will be followed by a rock balancing class taught by Ketchum’s local rock balancer Gabe Embler.

 “The thing I’ve noticed since coming to work here is how happy everyone is when they come to visit or to volunteer,” she said. “The children, of course, like to walk on the stepping stones in the pond. And the other day an older gentleman came through and he stepped on one of the stones and raised his hands and said, ‘That was good!’


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