Silver Springs Botanical Gardens
article written by Cathie Lank and published in the Calgary Horticultural Society magazine
When the community of Silver Springs received a smattering of trees from the City of Calgary in 2002 for their right-of-way lands that was great. But when they received 7000 trees for the Birthplace Forest that same year, a partnership between BP Energy, Calgary Parks, Regional Health and Golden Acres, it brought about a profound change in the community.
Before long a committee was formed, volunteers were found, benches installed and ornamental flower beds began to develop in and around the Birthplace Forest ... down the right of way ... along a wall ... a jut here ... another one there until the community had one of the largest volunteer-run public gardens in Calgary!
"We have about 14, 500 sq. ft. (1347 sq m) of forest and ornamental garden areas," says Duncan Badger, co-chair of the Silver Springs Botanical Garden.
"Other than funding donations our most important success factor is the 3000 volunteer hours contributed each year."
In four years the committee has raised $23,000 in individual donations and received $17,000 from Alberta's Culture and Community Spirit funding. They also have two major corporate sponsors, Blue Grass Nurseries and Bow Valley Tree Services, and appreciate the support from Calgary Parks.
"My favorite part is our wall garden because of the continuous length, 1300 feet (396 m)," says Duncan. "It's a perfect growing site along a concrete wall facing southwest and pretty well everything there is as healthy as you could find in Calgary. It's also on a high point of land with a good view to downtown."
An amazing variety of lush plants in a riot of colours line the wall, it's impossible not to slow down to take it all in.
Scents waft up from peonies, lilacs and roses at various times of year while blue delphiniums, red heucheras, pink redleaf roses, yellow California
poppies, purple lupines provide a feast for the eyes.
Other areas to explore include the Oval Garden, Rose Garden, Old Post Garden and Sandstone Garden.
And there are plans to expand. In the works for next year is the completion of a large labyrinth, a Shakespeare garden, a water fountain for both people and dogs and perhaps an outdoor fitness equipment area.
"With tremendous community financial support we have created a new and unique park area for both local residents and the whole city," says Duncan, "With perseverance and support from the community association we started with a small garden and we have evolved to where we now face very little red tape to build new gardens. Our results speak for themselves."