It All Began in a Garden - U of L Coutts Centre for Western Heritage Nanton AB

We finally had a nice day when nothing on our calendars prevented a trip to the Coutts Centre by Nanton. We decided to turn our destination into the final stop of a circle tour that took us to Vale's Greenhouse in Black Diamond, the Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley and the Little Apple Cafe and Bakeshop in Longview. Our lunch was eaten in the car while enjoying a wonderful mountain view before winding our way through the Williams Coulee and finally arriving at the Coutts Centre.

I have visited the centre in June, July and August previously and have been curious what Spring looks like in the gardens. Question answered - quite lovely.

One of the things I enjoy about springtime in the garden is the most delicate yet hardy plants appear before the grand rush that fills the beds in July arrive. They nourish the bees and bring joy to the winter weary eyes that seek them out.

The muscari (grape hyacinth) was the first blossom we saw as we arrived and the bees were loving it.
Frittilaria were preparing to welcome the bees.
A very early clematis hugged the stones warmed by the sun
Violas were popping up wherever there was a tiny space.
click to see larger

One brave little "johnnie jump up" decided to nestle in close to a cactus while others found space in crevices between the stones.

click to see larger

While not in great abundance the tulips that were open were wonderful.

Click to see larger

The clematis was a pleasant surprise. I didn't know there was a variety that blossomed this early. I shouldn't have been surprised though because if there is one thing I have learned is - there is always something to learn.

It isn't all about the flowers.

There are many fruit bearing trees at the garden as well and some were in bloom.

I almost missed these asparagus twisting their way up out of the soil but for the keen eye of my sharp-eyed camera-bag toting driver/husband.

There were a couple of varieties of fritillaria

Thought this one was especially interesting as the honey bee found a way in to gather nectar.

Soon, these beds will be full to overflowing with glorious poppies.

but far and away

my favourite find of the day were the lovely tulipa tarda.

as near to the original tulip that is to be found.
click to see larger

As I listed off at the beginning, we made our way to the garden via Williams Coulee road. I made a note to myself to take a drive through here in the fall at a time when the light is less harsh to enjoy these rugged rock formations.

Click to see larger

We may have had to eat our lunch in the car but you can't argue with the view we had...


The final image I have to share from our road trip was taken along Highway 22, near the Bar U Ranch. A herd of elk scattered in amongst the cottonwood trees. They were curious about me but must have decided I did not pose a threat though they did keep a close eye on me.

Created By
Cathy Bennington


C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography