The wildflower garden in full bloom
“Then & Now” was last year’s theme – many of the featured flower beds were recreations of past garden themes at the Lougheed House. This year, Head Gardener Marie Gattinger and the hardworking garden volunteers have recreated the British and Canadian flags in the formal garden beds in honour of the 125th anniversary of the construction of Lougheed House. Recently planted petunias, alyssum, ageratum and calibrachoa will soon bloom to reveal the design and colours of each flag. As the Canadian bed was planted first, it has had a bit of a head start on the British bed, and the flag design is already emerging.
The rest of the formal garden features plant colours that are emblematic of each room of the house. Each bed will be labelled so visitors can identify the elements of the garden design that correspond with each room. In addition to the transformation of the formal garden, a new garden in memorial to Peter Lougheed has recently been completed at the west side of the house. This project, undertaken by one of the garden volunteers, features a flowering crab tree which has really taken root this spring.
The Canadian flag design in the formal gardens
The new Peter Lougheed memorial garden at the west side of the house
Seeds and annuals were distributed throughout the formal gardens last week. Some of the seeds have quickly sprouted and it will not be long before the garden has filled out completely. Unfortunately this also means that the garden volunteers must be on the lookout for the resurgence of garden pests. Last year saw a slow re-emergence of the red lily beetle, which appeared in August, but luckily it was easily controlled by hand-picking. The martagon lily was the worst hit and had a late flowering, but it has fully recovered this year. Only four beetles have been spotted so far this summer, an indication that the volunteer’s efforts to curb the spread of this pest have paid off.
A Sarah Bernhardt peony in the formal gardens. This heritage variety was introduced in 1906 and named for the famous French dramatic actress. You will be able to view this specimen from the Beaulieu Gardens at the Canadian Peony Show, held at the Calgary Zoo June 24-26.
The garden weathered two hail storms in the summer of 2015, with the first stripping the plants substantially. However, most grew back thicker and heartier. This left some of the garden personnel requesting another hail storm this summer so that the plants might grow denser! Many of the flowering varieties were late to bloom last year as a result, but due to the extended growing season many also produced a second and third bloom: most notably the roses, which were still blooming in November. In the wildflower garden, some varieties were left to self-seed and have come back in abundance this year. You can often find a group of lively chickadees socializing in the bird bath of the wildflower garden (and occasionally, you may catch the neighbourhood robin taking a dip as well).
A local bird bathing in the wildflower garden
This year has seen a quick start to the flowering season due to the early warm weather Calgary experienced this spring. The irises were one of the first plants to begin blooming this year and as they fade they will soon be replaced by peonies, as the large buds look ready to emerge in the next few weeks. It is hard to predict how the early start to the season will affect growing conditions later in the summer but it may allow for many varieties to experience multiple blooming periods once again. With the emergence of even more blooming plants in June and the lilac bushes perfuming the grounds, it is a beautiful time of year to visit the garden and enjoy this unique space in the Beltline.
Orange poppies in bloom
Climbing roses on the arbour
Blog post by Lougheed House summer student Mieke Rodenburg