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Ricks Gardens offer nature on campus

The Thomas E. Ricks Demonstration gardens were established in 1997. Located in the heart of campus, students can enjoy the demonstration gardens, study for classes or walk the grounds.

Ben Romney, an applied plant science faculty member, said the demonstration gardens provide a living laboratory where students learn the art and science of horticulture

“The gardens bring a smile to visitors, help leave a lasting positive impression of the campus, and most of all, fit the mission and teaching model of the university,” Romney said. “Virtually all of the landscape features have been built by students. The gardens are maintained by students. The flowers and plants growing in the gardens have been grown by students.”

Romney said the demonstration gardens allow students to explore and discover the many features of the gardens. Some areas provide ideas and inspiration for how to design their own front or backyard one day.

“The students on the campus can find quite places to contemplate and feel the spirit,” Romney said. “There are many places to socialize for games or meals. The Thomas E. Ricks Gardens are in the center of the campus, integral to the feel of visiting this place of learning.”

Romney said there are many interesting things about the gardens that students do not know about. He said the gazebo by the Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services Building and the John Taylor Building have great acoustic quality.

“Often you will find someone practicing the guitar or some other instrument in that area,” Romney said.

Romney said a woman named Patsy Bagley, a local garden patron, donated Patsy’s Porch to the students on campus. Bagley wanted to do something to help create a place that would be memorable.

Romney said Patsy’s Porch is a spot where students can sit, swing or read a book.

Romney said that President Ezra Taft Benson originally attended the demonstration gardens open house and dedication, over 40 years ago. There are still a few remnants of the original patio landscape just west of the swan pond near the Ezra Taft Benson Life, Agricultural and Biological Sciences Building.

“When many students, faculty and staff need a break to think, exercise or just a place to take in nature, they head for the Thomas E. Ricks Garden,” according to the Thomas E. Ricks Web page. “This 10 acre garden on the south side of BYU-Idaho campus began in 1977. Over the years it has evolved into one of the finest show gardens in the western U.S.”

Students, faculty and members of the community use the demonstration gardens use the demonstration gardens. The demonstration gardens were originally established to facilitate outdoor teaching for the Horticulture Department during the time of Ricks College, according the the Web page.

The demonstration gardens have more recently become a main focal point of the BYU-I campus, according to the Web page.

Romney said many of the Horticulture and Plant Science classes are conducted in the demonstration gardens. During the spring and fall semesters, many can find a group of students rebuilding, re-paving and completing a project somewhere in the demonstration gardens. Many of the classes are available to any major on campus.

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