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Layton's own greenhouse adds homegrown color to city parks

Article Published 04/15/2013
Nothing is better than homegrown.
Park users who enjoy the colorful floral beauty in Layton City should be aware that the flowers came not from a store, or a commercial enterprise, but from Layton City’s own compact greenhouse.
Julie Griffin, Greenhouse Specialist with Layton City Parks, said that for about $3,000 annually in supplies, the city’s greenhouse can turn out more than $20,000 worth of annual flowers alone – And that’s estimated wholesale cost.
“The greenhouse is small and though it may not look like much, it packs a punch and does a lot for the Layton City ‘look,”’ Griffin stressed.
Over the years, the Layton City Parks Department has noticed that Bountiful and Sandy are perhaps the only two other large northern Utah cities who also operate their own greenhouses too.
“Layton has a huge amount of landscaped area, Griffin said. “If we had to purchase these plants, I think it would be cost prohibitive.”
In addition to all the annual plants the city generates from the greenhouse,  most of the centerpiece and perennial plants are also grown there --  including the ones in the city's amphitheater baskets.
And, she agrees – that like “homecooking” often makes for a better meal – planting and cultivating flowers from start to finish can produce better plants.
For example, having the greenhouse means the city can time the crop for exactly when they will need it.
Some areas of the city, like the welcome sign foliage on 400 West – which the parks department also plants – is an extra hot area, hammered with vehicle exhaust and soil issues.
“Being able to choose and custom grow exactly which varieties will withstand the conditions on each site makes the difference between a garden that ‘poops out’ midsummer, or one that lasts throughout the season,” Griffin said.
She also stressed than many of the plants Layton City typically uses are not commercially available and others would be hard to obtain in the high quantity that the city needs them in.
“For a modest cost, I think that the gardens really ‘class up’ areas in the city,” Griffin said. “Throughout the summer I see photographers, little kids, bird watchers – even bees and butterflies – enjoying the gardens.”
When she spots such admiration for the city’s flowers, “It makes you feel great inside,” Griffin said.
The city greenhouse has been around for more than 18 years. It generally operates from the end of January to the end of May.
Sometimes pansies or perennials may be started in the fall at the greenhouse, but not much needs done with those plants until the following January.
“Automating the watering and temperature controls has really cut down on the hours that are necessary to grow a crop,” Griffin said.
Griffin works under the direction of Ryan Pickup, Layton City Parks Supervisor. Amanda Myers, parks foreman, is another parks employee who assists with the greenhouse and plants.