Field Trip: Utah State University Botanical Center

usu bc sign

Last month I was in Utah visiting family, so I took the opportunity to check out the Utah State University Botanical Center in Kaysville. Located along Interstate 15, it’s hard to miss, and yet I had never visited despite having driven past it numerous times. Of course, March is not the ideal time to visit a botanical garden in Utah. Spring was in the air, but the garden still had a lot of waking up to do. Regardless it was fun to check the place out and imagine what it might have to offer in its prime.

The vision of the USU Botanical Center is “to guide the conservation and wise use of plant, water, and energy resources through research-based educational experiences, demonstrations, and technologies.” Some of the demonstration gardens are located alongside a series of ponds that are stocked with fish and are home to wetland bird species and other wildlife.  Next door to the ponds is the Utah House, a demonstration house modeling energy efficient design and construction along with other sustainable practices. The landscaping surrounding the Utah House, apart from the vegetable garden, consists mainly of drought-tolerant plants.

Utah State University has recently acquired some neighboring land and is in the process of expanding their demonstration gardens and arboretum. I enjoyed my brief visit (particularly the time I spent watching the ducks) and will make it a point to stop again, both during a warmer time of year and as the gardens continue to expand.


The fruits of smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

Pinus heldreichii 'green bun'

Dwarf Bosnian Pine (Pinus heldreichii ‘Green Bun’)

Daphne x burkwoodii 'carol mackie'

Carol Mackie Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’)

Amelanchier alnifolia leafing out

Saskatoon serviceberry leafing out (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold'

Dart’s Gold Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Dart’s Gold’)

Aprium blossoms

Aprium blossoms – 75% apricot, 25% plum

green roof

Green roof on a shed near the Utah House


The wetlands at USU Botanical Center offer a great opportunity to teach the public about the importance of wetland habitat and wetland conservation. Signage informs visitors that despite the fact that wetlands and riparian areas only make up 1% of Utah, 80% of Utah’s wildlife use such areas at some point during their life. Learn more here.

What botanical gardens are you visiting this spring? Leave your travelogues and recommendations in the comments section below.


7 thoughts on “Field Trip: Utah State University Botanical Center

  1. I’m lucky to live close to the Royal Botanical Gardens near Hamilton in southwestern Ontario so I go there often. I’d recommend visiting in the spring to catch the lilacs in bloom. The gardens have the world’s largest collection. I’d like to see a couple of American gardens in Pennsylvania this summer but, with the exchange rate as it is (a very weak Canadian dollar), I may have to postpone those plants.

      • Totally! If you have the time, seriously consider putting Reford Gardens in Quebec on the Gaspe peninsula on your itinerary. There’s no easy way to get there except to drive and drive and drive but it’s worth it.

  2. In a couple weeks I’ll be visiting the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior AZ and hope to make it to an 8:30am bird walk with Rich Ditch and Charles Babbitt. I may make it to the Desert Botanical Gardens while down south as well, but either way will definitely visit my local Arboretum at Flagstaff this spring.

    • Desert Botanical Garden is high on my list. I plan on taking a trip to Arizona next year, so I will have to check out the other gardens you mentioned as well. The bird walk sounds great!

  3. Pingback: 2016: Year in Review – awkward botany

  4. Pingback: Field Trip: Alaska Botanical Garden – awkward botany

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