About Helen Wells

About Helen Wells


Helen’s Neighborhood Orchard is named after and honors  Helen Clawson Wells, who was  affectionately known as

Utah’s Tree Lady being devoted to the planting, cultivation and preservation of trees.


The neighbors of the University Gardens Neighborhood continue in the tradition and  legacy of people such as Helen Wells.  Helen Wells was a great granddaughter of Brigham Young. She  organized the first  of many Salt Lake City garden clubs and tree organizations and served by appointment as the volunteer chairman of Salt Lake City’s Shade Tree Commission responsible for overseeing the planting of Salt Lake City’s Urban Forest for a period of more than 40 years. This commission was the forerunner of  Salt Lake City Urban Forestry Division She is also credited for the foundation of what is now Red Butte Garden and the University of Utah Arboretum.

“Mrs. Helen Wells, “the tree lady” has set up many thousands of ‘visible products of her labors. We contemplate with reverence and gratitude the many contribution of Mrs. Wells has made toward keeping Salt Lake City and Utah as green as they are. Because of its semi-arid climate, she has long realized that the city’s crowning glory lies in beautification through the growing of green things- shrubs, bushes and trees.  We commemorate her work in changing attitudes toward trees and in the redevelopment plan of the Downtown Planning Association… Our gratitude to Mrs. Helen Wells for her splendid service in making Salt Lake City more beautiful and attractive community. ” Deseret New ’62


Included among her acts of community service, she was a founding or organizing member of  the following:  the Heritage Society, the Salt Lake Art Center, on three occasions worked with others in preventing a large parking lot on Washington Square, The Utah Shade Tree Commission, Chairman of the Utah National Arbor Day Committee,  the Blue Star Highways Organization, the Memory Grove Committee, The Salt Lake Council of Women, the Astronomical Society, involved in the preservation of the 18th Ward Chapel, and  the arboretum Guild.

Mrs. Wells and her husband, married and settled  in the University Gardens in 1915 where they lived for more than 70 years.

The Shade Tree Special Collections can be found here:



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