This post was most recently updated on June 7th, 2017
Ashton Gardens is an oasis in the middle of a rather barren scene. Nestled in the valley of Lehi, Utah, between I-15 and a small mountain range, it is over 50 acres of incredibly lush and ornate gardens, trees, fountains, sculptures, art, and the largest man-made waterfall in the Western Hemisphere. The gardens are part of the shopping/attractions/dining/theaters complex known as Thanksgiving Point.
I don’t know if most people have heard of Ashton Gardens, but it can easily be compared to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. They are both about the same size and have beautifully tended and themed gardens. Both gardens provide unique ways of viewing the world of gardening, from interesting displays to seasonal activities and more. And both gardens are carved out of less desirable environments — Ashton Gardens out of a dry barren landscape, and Butchart Gardens out of a rock quarry.
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Ashton Gardens on a beautiful August morning, with my daughter and two grandchildren. In fact, we nearly had the gardens to ourselves. When you walk through the Garden Visitor Center, it feels like being welcomed into a grand home. The staff are so pleasant and happy to help, making suggestions as to what to see, and being sure you have all your questions answered.
We really enjoyed our morning at Ashton Gardens. Let me share our experience with you!
The gardens are easy to navigate
Easy-to-read maps of the gardens are available to all who enter. The paths are well-marked, and you can easily orient yourself by looking for landmarks, such as the Visitor Center or the Vista Mound because they are on high ground. Plus, there seems to be a natural loop course you can follow that will take you to most of the garden areas. Most of the paths are perfect for walking, pushing a stroller, or using a wheelchair. In fact, Ashton Gardens even has golf carts or Segways you can rent. There are only a few places where there are stairs or areas restricted to walkers.
A Man-Made Waterfall
Set amongst a backdrop of pine trees and boulders is a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall. There are paths where you can walk along the top of the waterfall, too. There you will see babbling streams, ferns, and other plants reminiscent of a canyon forest. You almost forget you’re in Lehi, Utah. In front of the waterfall pond is a staging area for concerts and other events, with a sloping lawn for seating. I could certainly imagine watching an orchestra play here as the sun sets in the evening.
Another highlight is the Italian Gardens. Cascading down the hill are a series of stone water basins that flow from one to the next, all the way down the hill. I loved the flowers lining this staircase! These gardens have an old-world feel. So classy and elegant! It reminded me a lot of the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.
Next we arrived at the Rose Garden with its circular arbor and views of the Monet Lake. All the roses were in full bloom during our visit, and we enjoyed the heady scent of rose even after we wandered away.
The Fragrance Garden was another favorite because of the topiaries and the central gazebo with an ornate dome. It was so much fun to walk among the plants here and smell all the different scents, from sage to lavender to chocolate basil to honeysuckle and more. You’ll find labels on all of the plants, and there are some surprises!
The Secret Garden
This is a beautiful little garden with a central fountain tucked away (as you might imagine) inside a circular wall with tunnels and passageways. You must actually open a door to enter into the garden. There are benches where you can sit and daydream…and occasionally children laughing as they lift the water in their hands from the fountain. I could have sat here for quite awhile…
The Light of the World Exhibit
I was very pleasantly surprised to see this exhibit – a large sculpture garden in a prominent position in the gardens, focused on the life of Christ, as seen in 15 bigger-than-life bronze sculptures, created by Angela Johnson. The centerpiece is Jesus walking on the water — a very powerful piece. Because of construction and landscaping work taking place, I couldn’t see the entire exhibit.
The Light of the World exhibit has been in the works for over 13 years. I was fortunate to meet Angela Johnson while I was at Ashton Gardens. I really enjoyed speaking with her and sensing her enthusiasm. She was very passionate about this exhibit and the potential for so many to draw strength and light from the life of Christ. She likes the way this sculpture garden makes a bold statement about the Savior. There are plans for a grand opening event, to be held September 24, 2016. (As luck would have it, we were invited to cover the opening of this garden, and our pictures and review are here).
Lots of extra details
As we wandered the gardens, I noticed lots of extra touches…a glass flower display, an over-sized caterpillar, restrooms and picnic tables, drinking fountains, a “carousel” sculpture, a pier on the Monet Lake with fish food for sale (Yes, you can feed the Koi fish!), and more. For those of you interested in xeriscapes, be sure to visit the Staircase Garden, featuring plants that use less water.
There’s also a cafe and gift shop inside the Garden Visitor Center. That gift shop was a ‘God-send’ because I had promised my granddaughter I would buy her a pink wand. I wasn’t sure where I would find one, but sure enough, the Garden Gift Shop had a whole display of fairy wands. Grammie scored!
Ashton Gardens’ most popular event is the annual Tulip Festival in April. With food, vendors, and music plus 250,000 tulips displayed, how can you go wrong?
More information about Ashton Gardens
- Ashton Gardens website
- Address: 3900 N. Garden Drive, Lehi, Utah 84043
- Hours: Last Saturday in March – September 30….9 am – 8 pm
- Pricing: Adults $15, Children 3-12 and Seniors $12, Free for children 2 and under, 25% discount for military with valid ID (For comparison sake, Butchart Gardens is $32 for adults)
- Golf cart rental $40 for 1.5 hours, Segway rental $30 for 1 hour (ages 18+)
- There are Thanksgiving Point memberships available that are worth their weight in gold. They allow unlimited admission to Ashton Gardens, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, the Museum of Ancient Life, and Farm Country, plus lots of extra perks.
I would like to thank Thanksgiving Point for hosting our visit to Ashton Gardens. We had a wonderful visit!
Thanksgiving Point is the center for so many great activities. Want to read my review of the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point? Or the Museum of Ancient Life? Farm Country is another great place to take your kids. And at Christmastime, you can return to Ashton Gardens and see their Luminaria celebration!