The Garden

Reader Rock Garden Historic Park site is one of Calgary’s most unique Cultural Landscapes and the first Legacy Park to open. Its restoration was honoured with a Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Award in Landscape Preservation, earning official designation as a Provincial Historic Resource.

Open from sunrise to sunset, the historic garden is a tribute to one man’s passion for plants and beauty.  William Roland Reader was the Superintendent for Calgary Parks, Cemeteries & Recreation from 1913 – 1942.   He also  transformed this once bare wind-swept hillside into an internationally acclaimed garden.

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.

Lovingly rehabilitated according to Reader’s original plans, the garden blooms from mid-April to October. The reconstructed Arts and Crafts style house features a café and classroom space for educational programs.

The garden is somewhat discreet from the street and the passing C-train (across from Erlton Station).  Only hints of what lies beyond the large conifers are found at the base flower bed near the welcome sign … Reader Rock Garden.  Follow the pathway upwards. Embracing the hillside are carpets of naturalized bulbs, mature trees and shrubs, spectacular specimens amongst woodland companions and year-round interest.  Dazzle your senses, and escape from the busy city to this tranquil retreat which features trickling ponds, picturesque views overlooking the Stampede Grounds, lovely vignettes with rustic benches and arbours, the sweet fragrance of fresh blooms, and playful wildlife inhabitants of various forms.  Explore the pleasant surprises that await you at this garden cache … make it your destination.

Awards

  • The Heritage Canada Foundation Achievement Award, 2008
  • Canadian Society of Landscape Architects National Citation, May 2007
  • Mayor’s Urban Design Award; Mawson Urban Design Award Category, 2007
  • Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Award, August 2006
  • Provincially designated Edwardian Arts and Crafts style rockery