During my last trip to Calgary, I stopped again at the Reader Rock Garden, which I hadn’t seen since very early Spring. This hidden gem was bigger than I’d realized. I never actually knew it was there until some other members of the Horticultural Society took me there in April, when only the very first plants, like Hepatica, were starting to make their appearance. This trip was a different story.
Even though the day was overcast and they had hail the week before, which ripped up some of their bigger plants, there was still lots in bloom. The staff there showed me where a Red Tailed Hawk had built a nest and said that an Owl had settled in the western region. Even though the western section of the garden is being rejuvenated, the waterfall and stream there was still a treat to see. As you climb the rock steps up the hill, there is another stream with a bridge and shaded area that continues up to the grassy area in front of the house.
The English cottage garden style there has been used to show off plants that will survive our weather and the rock walls on the side are a great display area for some of the alpines and lots of sedum. I believe some of the plants Mr. Reader collected are still growing there. This garden is worth a visit in any season. The variety of plants is amazing, so if you schedule a visit there, allow lots of time to check them out.
A little bit of background on this garden.
William R. Reader was the Superintendent of Parks in Calgary from 1913-1942 and spent 30 years collecting alpines in his travels. He built the garden around the house where he lived to showcase these plants and used it to educate people about the gardening potential of the prairie region. It was rejuvenated in 2006, has a café with vegetable garden and is used for weddings, Christmas parties and has educational sessions. For more information, including pictures of some of the plants in their collection, see their site: http://www.readerrock.com/Welcome.html