Genius Behind Temple Square’s Gardens Dies, But His Lush Legacy Lives On

by | Nov. 02, 2015

Mormon Life

MR says: Peter Lassig, the mastermind who designed Temple Square's gardens and landscaped other temples, revolutionizing gardening in the process, died last weekend.

Peter Lassig not only talked to flowers, he humanized them.

Daffodils are quarrelsome, said the longtime lead gardener for LDS Temple Square's celebrated grounds in downtown Salt Lake City. If you don't plant those spring blooms properly, they fight with one another — and with the tulips.

Lassig, who died Sunday at age 77, reasoned that plants, like people, need to be understood and cherished for who they are, not for what you want them to be.

"Tulips are prissy ballerinas all lined up on stage; daffodils are like girls in calico, holding hands and dancing through a meadow," he often said, "and hyacinths are like Russian soldiers with their tall hats and bayonets and falling all over each other."

Lassig was "a lovable, eccentric genius," said Paul Anderson, an architect and a retired curator at Brigham Young University's Museum of Art. "He had an intuitive feeling for gardens."

Lassig, who was born in Salt Lake City in 1938, was drawn inexorably to the famous square as an 18-year-old, volunteering to weed and perform other odd jobs. He maintained his interest while serving a Mormon mission in the Far East, then asked and received permission to remain, after his two years were up, to tour the renowned Kyoto Gardens and study those techniques.

Lead image from Salt Lake Tribune.
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