From dawn till dusk, Calgarians can stop by the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs to enjoy over 18 individual gardens for free.
It began in 2006 as a 400-square-foot ornamental garden developed within the existing BirthPlace Forest tree beds — a project that saw 7000 trees planted for every baby born in Calgary in 2002. The following year, community members started the Oval Garden with the participation of Calgary Parks and a resident began to develop the Wall Garden, by planting flowers along a noise barrier wall.
Since then, the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs Society, a registered charity, has formed, with directors overseeing development of new gardens with the help of volunteers who have put in countless hours planting and pruning.
Volunteer and society secretary Teresa Lynch is in charge of pruning the trees and shrubs. “I lived in a close-by community, and I love gardening,” she says. “I went through here one day through the labyrinth and saw some gardeners there and they were so friendly, and I just said, ‘Could I work here, could I volunteer?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’”
The garden has an outdoor labyrinth, which is also maintained by volunteers. “We’re on city land,” says Lynch, “but the city workers don’t do it so they don’t have to pay a salary for anyone. I think in that way, it’s just unique.”
Lynch adds, “It’s just a beautiful experience. It’s a multi-use park. We’ve got dog walkers, we’ve got garden lovers. It’s free, it’s peaceful.”
Carol Patterson, a volunteer who also sits on the board of directors, says, “I would encourage people to come, especially if they don’t know a lot about plants. Summer is visually the greatest time to come, but if they enjoy plants as they progress, then anytime is good.”
Patterson adds, “It’s a great community story of people who really wanna contribute to their community in a way that is beneficial to everybody. Everybody that’s here is here because they want to be.”
Regarding the flowers and vegetation, “It’s ever changing. It’s beautiful, right from the first bulbs in spring and then it changes, sometimes even weekly, so it’s entertaining and it’s variable, and it’s always refreshing to come here.”