The visitors center at GRPP underwent a major renovation in 2017-2018. There had been a small native plant garden next to the entrance. The garden had been lovingly built and tended to by two stewards, Chris Pike and Gwen Mackenzie. Unfortunately, due to the recent building renovations, the garden had to be demolished.
In late 2018, funds were raised to re-build a native plant demonstration garden. Then in early 2019, we were able to enlist the help of Rob Staniland to build a new and improved garden. Rob Staniland is retired but comes with a wealth of work-related experience in plant reclamation. He has also been involved with the Calgary and Cochrane area horticultural societies, the Calgary Rock and Alpine Garden Society, and helped design and build the crevice garden at the Silver Springs Botanic Garden.
Planning for the new garden started in early 2019. Due to the harsh growing conditions next to the visitor’s center, it was decided that a rock garden would be the best way to feature a few of the native plants that grow in the park.
This year spring was very late and rainy, and so, excavation of the area was finally started on June 28. The existing soil was removed to approximately 1/2 meter below pavement grade. The work also involved layering of proper subsoil, grass liners, drainage, boulders, gravel and sand. With the help of a bobcat and approximately 10 volunteers on that day, much was done. However, another day was needed to complete the project. On July 3, the hardscape was finally completed and our first set of native plants were carefully planted.
For now, the native garden is still in it’s infancy. More plants will continue to be planted throughout this summer. Hopefully with careful management and watering, the native demonstration garden will be a success.
New plant signage will also be added to the garden area. As well, a memorial plaque was recently installed in the garden in order to honour our dear friend and steward Chris Pike, who unfortunately passed away late in 2018. She was instrumental in the initial concept for this native garden and would have enthusiastically embraced this project to re-build it.
I encourage everyone to swing by the visitor center and take a look!
Submitted by Christine Costello