Patrick Seymour Alpine Garden
Development began in 1976. Clearing of the bush began as early as 1964. The original contours of an elongated bowl were followed. Rocks and boulders originating from the Canadian Shield, were transported by advancing glaciers, and deposited 12000 years ago as the glaciers receded.
One thousand tons of rock were used to construct two glaciated ridges, a long scree and a boulder bowl along with a more traditional site for native alpine species.
The boulder bowl was created by pushing a load of rocks over the edge, partially burying a clump of birch trees. Mr. Seymour hoped these trees would die but they grew better than ever!
A second phase of construction began in 1991. The north facing bowl selected to complement the south and west aspects of the original alpine garden. It was landscaped using sandstone to provide a contrasting style of construction and a small pool was incorporated into the design to provide an area for moisture-loving plants. This north-facing portion was funded by the Friends of the Garden to honour Mr. Patrick Seymour, the retired director of the Garden. This shady, north-facing area has allowed us to introduce an even wider range of plants, particularly those that prefer shade and moisture, which our summer climate does not always provide.
Peat has been incorporated into the sandy soil before being covered by gravel. The layer of gravel acts as a mulch. It helps prevent the underlying soil from drying out, and also provides support for new seedlings, and retains heat during the cool nights in the spring.
It contains native plants collected both as seeds and plants from many areas of the province, including southern Alberta, whose desert plants may not be alpine, but which grow in a similar environment.
Other plants have been introduced from seed obtained from botanic gardens around the world, and from the nursery of Ed Lohbrunner, Vancouver Island. Still others came from the United States and other provinces, while more additions came from local nurseries.
There are now over 3000 accessions in this garden. An accession can be one plant or a group, all from the same source at the same time. These accessions represent 310 genera. Special collections include: Rhododendron species and cultivars (these are all dwarf), some 140 dwarf conifers, and 34 species of Primula, as well as cultivars. Other well-represented genera include Saxifraga, Allium (Onions), Androsace, Aquilegia (Columbine), Campanula (Bellflower), Dianthus (Pinks), Draba, Dwarf Iris, Daphne, dwarf conifers and Phlox.
Spring is the best time to visit, with the first flowers appearing in April, followed in May and June by many more species in flower. One of the earliest to flower the Eunomia oppositifolia, is native to Lebanon, yet it thrives here on a south-facing and arid slope.
Many small bulbous and cormous species flower early in the spring including species of Crocus, Narcissus, Puschkinia, Chionodoxa and Muscari.
Species of the easily-grown genus Draba brighten the garden with their pretty yellow flowers each spring, along with the Saxifraga species.
Then in the north-facing section of the garden, we have the beautifully fragrant Daphne mezereum, along with many species of Primula Scilla siberica and the variety alba are another very hardy and early flowering species.