Ask Sophy Kohler about her professional goals and she’ll tell you straight up: “To have my hands dirty, and to be surrounded by flowers and plants as much as possible.”
Considering Sophy is the owner of Park City Gardens (formerly Park City Nursery), it’s safe to say she’s on point with her career goals.
When you visit Park City Gardens to buy plants, peruse the gift shop, or to ask for advice on your garden, chances are, you’ll meet Sophy. “I try to work in different parts of the business each week,” she smiles, noting that she and her staff are well experienced on the topic of high-altitude gardening. “We have so many knowledgeable, long-time employees that live and breathe gardening in our mountain climate,” she says. “That experience is invaluable to us, and to our customers.”
Dropping by Park City Gardens is an experience. Yes, people come to buy plants and seek out advice, but Sophy and her team also maintain walking paths, outdoor seating areas, and wildflowers on the magical multi-acre property, which features a stream and draws wildlife.
“I want people to come to relax and to feel a garden sanctuary here. We want it to be inviting. A place to stroll around with kids and friends. A place to enjoy the moment,” she says, noting that the gardens are dog-friendly (on leash).
The property is also dotted with historical structures that date back to the 1800s. One such building, previously called the Pace-Archibald Store, will be reborn this summer as the Garden Cafe, a charming, full-service cafe offering an array of coffees and teas. Each beverage will be served with a rosemary or lavender shortbread cookie bite — Sophy’s own recipe.
The Garden Cafe is just one of the many upgrades and special touches Sophy has been instituting since taking ownership of the business in 2016. The property’s historical Snyder Family Home was turned into the Garden Boutique, a welcoming space filled with botanically inspired gifts and indoor plants and pots. And the Flower Barn was introduced — a flower shop offering full-service floral design services and a host of workshops and classes. This summer, a 2,000-square-foot glass greenhouse called Casa Verde will serve as a year-round mecca for gardeners and plant lovers.
In addition to providing a tranquil space for plant and nature lovers to kick back and learn about growing at high altitudes, Sophy and her team are constantly giving back to nonprofit organizations like Park City Education Foundation and EATS, and working with community garden and nature preservation groups, to name a few.
“I love how the gardens keep me connected to our community,” she says. “We do a lot of hosting at our space too. From community meetings to gardening classes and live art workshops with local galleries.”
Sophy is ready for the summer ahead — one that will undoubtedly be brighter than last year and will introduce her to the throng of garden enthusiasts who got hooked during the pandemic. Alongside her knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, new amenities, and passion for growing things, Sophy and the team at Park City Gardens are ready for anything.
HIGH ALTITUDE GARDENING TIPS
Gardening in the mountains of Utah provides unique challenges, but luckily for us, Sophy Kohler offered up a few tips for picking perennials that tend to do well in Park City. Here are a few of her top-performing, sun-loving, drought-resistant plants that also boast a longer blooming season.
- Creeping Phlox: Offers wonderful ground cover and early spring blooms.
- Ice Plant (Stone Plant): This hardy succulent provides superb ground cover with bountiful blooms through mid-to-late summer.
- Penstemon (Beardtongue): These plants bloom in mid-to-late summer and are a favorite among hummingbirds.
- Nepeta (Catmint): With early-to-late summer blooms, these perennials will grow to take up space and the neighborhood bees and butterflies will thank you!
- Geranium (Cranesbill): This mid-sized, native plant will bloom mid-to-late summer.
- Knautia: With a mid-sized flower, these will bloom for months if you deadhead them (remove spent flowers) as you go.
- Lupine: This local summer plant offers an early flower.
- Echinacea (Coneflower): This herbaceous flowering plant offers up late-summer blooms.
- Salvia: The spire shape of Salvia adds dimension to your garden and the plants will bloom from mid- to-late summer.
- Sedum (Stonecrop): This flower will add color to your garden until winter with a late summer to fall blooming window. Plus, bees love them!