The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point

Created in the Pioneer Spirit

By Esther Truitt Henrichsen
Garden Designer at

This article originally appeared in Vol.60 No.2 of Pioneer Magazine.

When the Mormon Pioneers arrived in Utah, they courageously took the semi-arid landscape and built , farms, and cities from scratch. Using the Zion city plan as a template and guide, many communities were created in Utah and Idaho, through Arizona and Nevada, and all the way to California. Behind all this hard work was Brigham Young, quoting from the pulpit Biblical scripture that encouraged the very powerful idea of making the desert blossom as a rose (see Isaiah 35:1)

The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point do not look like Pioneer-era gardens, but in spirit there are many similarities. On Valentine’s Day in 1995, Alan and Karen Ashton purchased a five-generation dairy farm near the Point of the Mountain in Lehi, Utah. They wanted a place where their family could get back to nature and enjoy riding horses and caring for the animals. The large, windswept property they bought is bordered by the Jordan River and the I-15 freeway and is divided through the middle by railroad tracks. The property has a rich history as Native American summering grounds, and the 19th-century Overland Stage and Pony Express Trails pass through the land. The Ashton family ultimately created Thanksgiving Point on the space to share their good fortune with other families in the community.

As with early pioneer gardens, scripture was also present in the creation of the Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. Scattered like jewels throughout the garden are small brass plaques engraved with scriptural verses. On top of the mound of the Vista Garden, on a plaque at the base of a column, is the scripture that sets the garden’s theme:

“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).

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