Peter Lassig not only talked to flowers, he humanized them.

Daffodils are quarrelsome, said the longtime lead gardener for LDS Temple Square’s celebrated grounds in downtown Salt Lake City. If you don’t plant those spring blooms properly, they fight with one another — and with the tulips.

Lassig, who died Sunday at age 77, reasoned that plants, like people, need to be understood and cherished for who they are, not for what you want them to be.

“Tulips are prissy ballerinas all lined up on stage; daffodils are like girls in calico, holding hands and dancing through a meadow,” he often said, “and hyacinths are like Russian soldiers with their tall hats and bayonets and falling all over each other.”

Lassig was “a lovable, eccentric genius,” said Paul Anderson, an architect and a retired curator at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art. “He had an intuitive feeling for gardens.”

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