Reader Rock Garden
Reader Rock Garden is a nationally designated park located in Calgary's City Centre. The Garden first started in 1913 by Park's Superintendent, William Reader; designed in the typical Arts and Craft style of the time, as a naturalistic rockery. The garden grew by securing plants on travels and by trading seeds with horticulturalists worldwide. The quality of the plants and seeds were recognized by the most prestigious horticultural agencies in the world, including Kew Gardens in London, the Botanical Gardens at Harvard and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. During Reader's time the Garden held over 4,000 different plant species.
The function of the garden can be seen in many ways, through many different lenses. A biodiversity lens recognizes that Calgary is home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Calgary's ecological network is composed of larger patches of natural or semi-natural habitats (cores) and smaller patches of natural or semi-natural habitats (steppingstones). These are interconnected through linear riparian zones and other open space. All together these make up the corridor components of the network. Manicured parks in Calgary, such as Reader Rock Garden, help link the steppingstone habitats to the overall network by providing space for ecological processes and resources for a variety of species. Reader Rock Garden's diverse range of plant species, proximity to the Elbow River and other large park spaces allow it to contribute to a wide array of ecosystem services such as pollinator and wildlife habitat, air filtration, water management and microclimate regulation. We can also look Reader Rock Garden through a more horticultural lens. The garden is often referred to by avid gardeners as a "the hidden jewel" within our city. There is plant material in bloom from the snow melt of April all the way into the late fall. The diversity of plants that can actually be grown in Calgary is remarkable to many. And finally via a more romantic lens. Many people consider the garden a piece of greenspace heaven with winding rock pathways taking you on a peaceful journey. The quiet nooks of brockington's lawn, the curved benches under the ornamental crabapple, and the sanctuary of the upper garden provide peaceful places for reflection and intimate conversations. You can easily feel as though you've wandered into a different time and place with the sound of the waterfalls, the running stream and the singing birds. You can be mesmerized watching the bees buzzing from flower to flower and the butterflies softly fluttering on air. Reader Rock Garden is a special place, you really need to experience it to understand.