Curious about volunteering at Red Butte Garden? Join the green thumbs at the Volunteer Fair Open House anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sat., March 10, to meet our Volunteer Crew Leads and learn more about the many opportunities for you. They are looking for Garden Guides (Docents), Summer Camp and Youth Programs help, horticulture and event volunteers. Do your teenagers’ ages 14 and up need something meaningful to do this summer? We have opportunities for them too.
Red Butte Garden History
In 1930, Dr. Walter P. Cottam, co-founder of The Nature Conservancy and chairman of the Botany Department at the University of Utah, began using campus land for plant research. For more than 30 years, he evaluated plants to determine their adaptability to our region.
In 1961, the Utah State Legislature formally recognized Cottam’s impressive collection by designating the University’s campus landscape as the State Arboretum. The original legislation mandated that the Arboretum “provide resources and facilities for cultivating a greater knowledge and public appreciation for the trees and plants around us, as well as those growing in remote sections of the country and world.”
With the growth of the Arboretum, the University of Utah hired Richard Hildreth as a full-time director to initiate meaningful interpretation of the collections and to develop educational programs emphasizing practical horticulture and plant identification.
As the University grew, so did the Arboretum’s need for permanent public educational facilities and display gardens. In 1983, Ezekiel R. Dumke. Jr. and Richard Hildreth led the efforts to have the University dedicate 100 acres at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon for a regional botanical garden. The organization’s name changed from the State Arboretum to Red Butte Garden & Arboretum. The site provided an outstanding opportunity to showcase horticultural collections and to interpret the richly diverse natural area. This opportunity inspired the expansion of the Garden’s mission to include not only horticulture but also conservation and environmental education.
The Garden formally opened to the public in 1985. In 1994, the Walter P. Cottam Visitor Center (funded by the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation) opened. Over the years other additions have been the Courtyard Garden, Fragrance Garden, Medicinal Garden, Herb Garden, Hemingway Four Seasons Garden, Dumke Floral Walk, Children’s Garden, the Richard K. Hemingway Orangerie, an amphitheater, expanded gift shop, and the McCarthy Family Rose Garden. All funded by community donations.
Today, Red Butte Garden has 21 acres of display gardens and over five miles of hiking trails. The Garden, which is community-funded, has grown into one of the nation’s pre-eminent botanic gardens with 200,000 annual visitors, over 10,000 members, and over 300 active volunteers. The Garden is renowned for its award-winning gardens and beautiful floral displays, including its springtime display of 450,000 blooming bulbs, outstanding outdoor summer concert series, and award-winning educational programs. It has become a multi-purpose facility for people seeking horticultural knowledge, exercise, recreation, family-based activities, or a stunning setting for weddings and other special events.