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Nature beckons to garden lovers

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The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is holding a fund-raising event, "Art of the Gardener," Saturday to support museum education and public outreach programs.

Held biannually, it will feature eight private gardens in the Holladay/Millcreek area. Self-guided tours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Well-known local artists will be painting at each garden. They include Howard Clark, Marian Dunn, Colleen Howe, Anne Marie Oborn, Bonnie Poselli, Steve Songer, Kathryn Stats, John Hughes and Barbara Summers.

"These (gardens) are the culmination of a year of planning and work on the part of the people preparing the gardens . . . . The appeal of this is that you get to see for a fairly modest price some of the months and months of labor and dedication of the people generously offering a glimpse of their garden," said David Dee, UMFA's executive director.

One of the featured gardens belongs to Paula Swaner. About 3 acres in size, it has been shaped and created over the course of 50 years. "It follows the contours of the Earth," she said.

Large cottonwoods and blue spruces are among the many trees in the Swaner garden. Mill Creek runs through the north end of her yard, with two bridges that lead to the upper acres of the garden. Swaner describes her garden as "a traditional English garden" with unexpected elements — a Japanese tea-house and pool house, for example. She added that her garden, like a work of art, is a product of the imagination. "It's imagined space, just like a work of art," she said.

Dee said he enjoys seeing the different interpretations of what makes a beautiful garden. "I was really awestruck by the beauty of the gardens," he said of past tours. "It's a rare treat to see the years of work people put into their gardens."

Dee describes the UMFA's fund-raiser as an opportunity to support students that visit the museum each year. About 30,000 children throughout Utah participate in UMFA education and outreach programs. Dee said the fund-raiser is "critical for allowing us to continue to offer these programs both to school kids and to families that visit the museum on their own."

In addition to the garden tours, Gordon Hayward, a garden designer, lecturer and consultant, will speak at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Katherine & Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium in the UMFA. His lecture, titled "Your House, Your Garden," will use slides to illustrate elements of garden design.

Hayward will also be signing copies of his new book, "Your House, Your Garden," today from 1 - 3 p.m. at Barnes and Noble in Sugar House, 2100 S. 1104 E., and after his lectures at the UMFA.

Tickets are available at the museum for both the lecture and garden tour. The cost is $25 for UMFA members and $30 for non-members. Garden tours without the lecture are $20. Advance registration is recommended.

To register for a garden tour or one of Hayward's lectures, call Ann Wilson at 278-0473. To become a UMFA member call Carrie Radant at 585-0125.

E-MAIL: nwarburton@desnews.com