Profiles of Calgary Community Gardens: Rain Garden at Winston Heights.

I’ve been planning for a couple of years now to do an ongoing series of posts featuring community gardens in the city of Calgary…my idea is that even if you don’t live in southern Alberta or grow your veggies and flowers in a community garden or allotment, there might be some ideas you can take away from seeing how the garden members have designed and utilized these spaces.

My first post is actually about a municipal initiative that promotes the construction of rain gardens throughout the city of Calgary.  This particular rain garden may be found adjacent to the Winston Heights/Mountview community garden (a fantastic garden I will write about later).  The garden members are responsible for the maintenance of the plants growing in the rain garden.

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Photos taken September 2014

According to the City’s website, these rain gardens have been designed with purpose:  they help keep pollutants and sediments from stormwater drainage from entering the river (our drinking supply).  They also restrict localized flooding and help promote drainage. They’re planted with low maintenance, wildlife- and insect-friendly plants and are otherwise pretty much left to perform a necessary job.

Are there any rain gardens in your area, or have you implemented principles from rain garden design in your own garden? 

Flowery blurbs, volume 13.

Well, it’s the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere and I’m looking forward to some heat and great gardening!  Why do we have a summer solstice (besides being a great excuse to break out the flipflops and sunscreen)?   Check out this article about the reason for seasons.

Although it doesn’t seem as nasty as in previous years, we’re in full “cotton fluff” mode right now:  that messy time of year when the windborne seeds of poplar trees float about and stick to every outdoor surface.  Consult this article from the City of Edmonton for information about how to prevent the seedy problem on your own property.

Poplar cotton in still water (photo taken June 2007)

I spent a good chunk of the past week doing more research about dye plants, and in my reading, I came across this utterly fascinating article about the history of indigo.  It’s really interesting to trace the economic value of certain plants over time, especially as trends and fashions ebb and flow.

This report out of New Brunswick addresses the problem of tent caterpillar infestations, and comes with a warning not to “protect” trees from the eating machines by spreading petroleum jelly on the bark or covering the trunks with aluminum foil.  Find out why letting the caterpillars do their thing is actually healthier for the trees than these homemade preventative measures.

If you’re thinking of brewing up compost teas, or maybe tweaking the recipe you’re already using, check out this article and video from Verge Permaculture – it’s a fantastic how-to clinic!

Although most of the time we tend to be on the more arid side of things here in Calgary and we’re usually looking for xeriscaping tips, this hugely informative article about rain gardens might be just the ticket, considering the copious amount of rain we’ve had this month.  After all, we all should be thinking about how best to trap rainwater and conserve it for future use.   Check out this post at Soulsby Farm!

During another recent stint of research, I came across this website from the world-famous Kew Gardens – it’s a fantastic compilation of information about plants from south Asia, integrated with facts about their uses as food, medicine, and in arts and crafts, religious rituals, politics and trade.  It’s well-worth a gander!

Apparently auto maker Ford is taking kenaf fibre (from the extremely useful annual plant Hibiscus cannabinus) very seriously and using it as filler material in the doors of their 2013 Escape vehicles.  (Read more about it here).  What do you think of this?  Is this something we’ll be seeing more of in the future? 

Commercial product made from kenaf fibres

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