Date of Award:
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)
Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning
Michael L. Timmons
The gardens of early Mormon pioneers are a unique cultural resource in the western United States, but little guidance has been provided for understanding or providing landscape treatments for Mormon landscapes. Mormon pioneers came to Utah and the Great Basin to escape religious persecution and build their own holy kingdom. In relative geographical isolation, they built towns that have a distinctive character delineating a Mormon cultural region in the West. Self-sufficiency was an important feature of these towns and of the religious culture of early Mormons, both because of their geographical isolation and their desire to be independent of the world, which they viewed as wicked. This emphasis on self-sufficiency made gardens and gardening an important part of every household, encouraged by religious leaders and individual need. The cultural and personal preferences of individuals did influence the style and contents of Mormon pioneer gardens, but perhaps not to the extent that the religious culture of self-sufficiency did.
When managing or treating Mormon pioneer landscapes or gardens, it is helpful to start by assessing any historic features that still exist. Then, the property owner or manager can choose one of the standard landscape treatments of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction, or opt for some combination of these treatments. Because Mormon pioneers brought plants from all over the world, a large selection of heirloom plants may be suitable for historic Mormon landscapes. A few historic plants are no longer appropriate in Western landscapes because of ecological concerns such as invasiveness or water efficiency, but substitutions for these plants can be found by considering the plant's form, function, and meaning in the historic landscape.
Wheeler, Emily Anne Brooksby, "The Solitary Place Shall Be Glad for Them: Understanding and Treating Mormon Pioneer Gardens as Cultural Landscapes" (2011). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 899.
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