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Moving from the Tropics to Utah

One of our favorite things to do at Modern Gardener is see all the unique yards Utahns grow.  

So, we met with home gardener Analy and her husband Dave to hear all about their playful garden and how they’ve learned to adapt to Utah’s unique climate. Let’s take a glimpse into their garden!

VIDEO: Gardening as Art | Garden Glimpse


How Analy Got Started Gardening

Growing up in the Philippines, Analy’s father grew rice, fruit, and vegetables. She credits her early childhood gardening experiences as a child as part of the reason she fell in love with gardening. As she got older, she became a wedding designer and florist and uses that knowledge in her garden today. 

Analy loves monochromatic landscape and floral design and tries to go from lighter shades to darker shades when planting. Dave says Analy’s hard work and thoughtfulness pays off and he loves seeing the way her garden flows together.  

Analy finds a lot of joy in her garden. She says she loves planting seeds and watching them become full grown plants. She says it allows her to use her imagination. Analy sees gardening as therapy and says she will sometimes stay up working until midnight!

Gardening in Utah’s Climate

Analy and her husband Dave lived in Hawaii for 5 years together, but moved to Utah to be closer to family. After spending most of her life in tropical climates, the switch to gardening in Utah was a challenge. 

Analy lived in Luzon, in the northern part of the Philippines, where the climate is very different from Utah. The seasons are much less pronounced and while there are some cooler months, it rarely gets cold. There’s much more humidity and there’s the chance of rain all year long. 

One of the biggest differences Analy has noticed about gardening in Utah is how long her plants last. She says in the Philippines, plants in her yard could last for years! But in Utah, some of her flower blooms only last for a short time and the plants don’t last as long. 

Dave says in the Philippines you didn’t have to worry about if your plants were annuals or perennials since things seemed to grow year round. But Analy points out that there are some plants she can grow here that she couldn’t in warmer temperatures, like tulips and daffodils. 

Experimenting in the Garden

While she says gardening in the Philippines and Hawaii was much easier, Dave says Analy is always changing their yard and trying to improve it. “It's like art. It's like making a clay model. You change it all the time, “ he says, “and you know, for all of us that are non-artists, gardening gives us a chance to be artists. Your imagination is unlimited.

Eggplants in Analy's garden.

Analy loves to experiment in the garden. One way she does it is by saving seeds. At the end of the growing seasons, Analy collects seeds from all of her plants. For her flowers, she says she has to watch them carefully because if she waits too long, the seeds will end up on the ground before she has a chance to save them. She also uses seeds in her patio container garden.  Dave says, “I mean, there’s not a vegetable we eat with seeds that doesn’t end up back out in the garden.” Analy sees it as a learning opportunity and tries to improve each year. 

Analy collecting seeds.
Previously saved seeds that Analy will plant next season.

Pest Management

One of the biggest issues Analy has in her garden is pests, namely earwigs. But after doing some research, she started using a mixture of oil and soy sauce. She fills containers with the mixture and puts it near plants that show earwig damage. The earwigs are attracted to the smell of the soy sauce and then the oil traps them in the container.  She’s noticed less damage on her plants, but says she catches so many earwigs she has to change the mixture daily!

Oil and soy sauce trap

To learn more about earwig control, visit:

Whimsical Garden Touches 
In addition to her plants, Analy’s garden has lots of whimsy. Analy and Dave travel to garage sales and thrift stores all around Utah to find fun treasures for their yard. One of the most striking is a large piece of Acacia wood in the center of their front yard. Dave says he got a rough cut of it in the Philippines. He used a steel angle grinder to shape and smooth it out.  Dave also builds birdhouses!

Driftwood statue in Dave and Analy's front yard.

There’s an enchanting fairy garden in the front yard as well. The fairy garden is packed with fairy and gnome figures, miniature furniture, and houses. As a kid, Analy used to read comics about fairies and gnomes. Her love of these stories continues to this day, as seen by her ever-growing fairy garden. 

Analy adding to her fairy garden!

It first started as a way to teach her grandchildren about gardening. But she continues to add pieces to it even now. One of the fairies lies in a hammock, she says, waiting for guava or other fruit to fall. She named him after the Filipino folklore character Juan Tamad.

Juan Tamand relaxing in the garden.

With so much beauty throughout the front and back yard, Analy and Dave love to relax and enjoy their garden.  We hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into their garden!

 If you live in Utah and have a home garden you want to show off, click here!