An award-winning visitor attraction, the U of A Botanic Garden outside Edmonton contains a wide diversity of plants, specialized gardens, and indoor showhouses
A sign at the entrance to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden welcomes you to their “garden in a forest.” The Garden is located on a 240-acre property 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. It contains 80 acres of cultivated gardens, indoor showhouses, and natural areas including wetlands, fens, woods, and meadows.
The garden was created in 1959 when Colonel H.A. (Sandy) Doyle donated land to the university for the purpose of creating a botanical garden. The garden has grown and evolved since then. It became known as the Devonian Botanical Garden in 1975 after a grant from the Devonian Foundation. The name was changed to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in 2017.
I was impressed with the size and diversity of the garden. Its setting, surrounded by natural meadow areas and trees away from city bustle, creates a peaceful, unhurried vibe.
The Aga Khan Garden
The Aga Khan Garden is the newest addition to the Botanical Garden. Opening to the public in 2018, it was made possible by a gift from His Highness Aga Khan, a spiritual leader in the world’s Ismali Muslim community. It is the northernmost Islamic-inspired garden in the world, and one of only two in North America.
The Aga Khan Garden contains modern architectural elements inspired by Mughal traditions and uses geometric patterns in its design.
Kurimoto Japanese Garden
The 5-acre Kurimoto Japanese garden was created in the kaiyou (strolling garden) style. The design is Japanese but plants are species hardy to the northern climate. The garden, which opened in 1990, is named after Dr. Yuichi Kurimoto, the first Japanese national to graduate from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts in 1930.
Patrick Seymour Alpine Garden
The Patrick Seymour Alpine Garden, one of the largest alpine gardens in North America, contains many plants adapted to grow above the treeline of mountains. The garden is named after Patrick Seymour who was Director of the Botanical Garden from 1971 to 1996.
The Indigenous garden was created in 1980 and contains plants traditionally used by indigenous peoples for food, medicine, and ornamentation.
Indoor showhouses include a Tropical Plant and Butterfly Showhouse, an Arid Showhouse, and a Temperate Showhouse.
The rest of the Garden contains a diverse collection of plants including ornamental plants, fruits, vegetables, trees, and shrubs. Collections are organized to display and interpret ecosystems and the relationships between people and plants. The following photos from my visit highlight just some of what can found there.
Visiting the University Of Alberta Botanic Garden
The University of Alberta Botanic Garden is open to the public from May to September. Check the website for exact times and admission fees. The garden is located 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton, 5 kilometres north of Devon on Highway 60.
You can spend anywhere from a couple of hours to all day exploring the garden. Wear comfortable shoes. The outdoor licensed café sells light lunches, snacks, and ice cream. You can also bring your own picnic lunch. We walked through the garden on our own using the Visitor’s Map as a guide, but drop-in guided walking and guided tram tours are available.
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