Saturday, June 17, 2017

Readers' Rock Garden Revisited

     Back in August when I wrote my first article on Readers' Rock Garden the season was coming to an end and it is not a very floriferous time. I was trying to time my spring visit with the blooming of the rare Iris collection but I seemed to be too early, however, the rest of the garden did not disappoint!

This blue Gentian excels in the rock garden environment and is just the most intense blue one can see in nature. Above is an unknown plant to me, although I have seen it in other locations, it looks like a type of peony like an ancestor of peonies we have today. It seems to do very well in Calgary so I'd love to know what it is.

A close up of the Gentian, these plants are native to mountainous regions of Europe so are quite at home at our high altitude.

After the restoration a few years ago we can see how this garden was intended to look. It really is something to behold and one can see how this garden rivaled gardens of the West Coast and became an attraction in Western Canada.

Another angle shows the Icelandic Poppies in bloom amongst the collection of sandstone blocks arranged by William Reader himself.

What is likely Siberian Iris graces the driveway up to the house.

From the top of the rock path looking down to the driveway is some Ostrich Fern and the yellow Globe Flower which I remember my Grandmother in her English accent calling it Trollius. I have always thought of this relative of Ranunculus as old fashioned, and like all the plants in this garden they are, having been replanted from the original plant lists from almost 100 years ago.

One of the largest masses of Forget-Me-Not I have probably seen, a display this large of the tiny flower takes it from cute to stupendous!

Some of the intriguing pathways, each area highlights a different collection yet is unified by its sheer lushness that is a complete juxtaposition to the Great Plains that the City is built on.

I noticed this unusual Green Ash, of course we have millions in the City, but this one has such a fine and lacy appearance and is also loaded with seeds. Perhaps a forgotten variety? In fact when you look at the garden plants as a whole everything is quite delicate and lacy, this makes me think of aesthetics and how they change over time.

Speaking of unusual trees I missed this Horse Chestnut back in August but when in bloom I  almost couldn't believe my eyes! These are not common or even really known to grow here at all but here we are. This is why this garden must be used as a resource for the the City and its horticulturalists. Why haven't we been planting Horse Chestnuts for the last 100 years? Like many trees in our region they do not grow to their maximum height so I don't see how they would be a problem like in warmer regions. This one although very old is only about 15 feet tall but still bears the massive flower clusters.

This Shooting Star was a favourite of William Reader, there are many throughout the garden. This is an example of some of the native species he collected.

Here are two Lilac types that I am not familiar with, they are probably no longer available in cultivation. The lilacs we have now are so much more robust, brighter, bigger, with more scented flowers. These old varieties are still really nice though both of these had delicate leaves and flowers and you can see how they were probably used for their genetics for the lilacs we grow today. The white lilac had very delicate flowers but an unusual scent a little like soap not in a good way.

Some of the perennial beds with a large decorative rhubarb. I'm glad I revisited again at this time of year, late spring, it is when these gardens are at their prime! For the full background see my article from August 2016.

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