Always a favourite place to visit, just remember - wear solid shoes for walking on the stone paths and uneven stairs, plan time for tea or lunch in the cafe and bring mosquito repellent.
This historic garden is a tribute to one man's passion for plants and beauty. William Reader was the Superintendent for Calgary Parks from 1913 – 1942 during which time he transformed a bare hillside into an internationally-acclaimed garden. After departure from his post the garden was renamed in his honor and was maintained for the public enjoyment and education for many years. Eventually the powers that be lost sight of the gem that was in their midst and in the 1960’s the garden began to fall into a state of disrepair and stayed that way for many years.
In 2003 Friends of the Reader Rock Garden Society was formed and work began in recovering this unique garden from years of neglect. That’s about the time I first heard about the garden and recovery project and began watching for news of it’s progress while eagerly awaiting it’s opening. Members of FoRRGS used Wm Reader’s original plans for the rehabilitation work. Including the Arts and Crafts style house which now hosts a lovely café and classroom space for educational programming.
In 2006 the garden was reopened to the public and I made my first visit to the garden. As with any garden, the work is never complete so it is that every time I visit another area has been cleared, plants have had a chance to grow without the competing grasses and weeds. Lawns, pathways and garden beds are constantly being rebuilt and restored. It’s always a treat to see what’s new.
During the turn of the century, it was common for horticulturists to collect alpine plants on their travels and create gardens as living artifacts of their journeys. Reader actively engaged in this practice and for thirty years the Garden trialed over 4000 different plant species, making it one of the few significant gardens in western Canada. Reader used the Garden as a showplace to educate people about the gardening potential of the prairie/foothills region of Alberta, particularly Calgary. – www.calgary.ca/parks/reader-rock-garden
C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography