One of my greatest passions in life is gardening though I appreciate you wouldn’t know it from reading my blog. From spring until fall it’s a rare day (when I’m home) that I don’t dig in the dirt. So when I was asked by Explore Edmonton if I’d like to visit the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens (formerly the Devonian Gardens) it was a definite yes – though I have to admit I didn’t even know this place existed until a few weeks ago.
Getting to the Botanical Gardens in Edmonton
Getting to the University of Alberta Botanical Gardens takes about 30 minutes from downtown Edmonton – and even longer if you follow Google maps and get lost like I did. The 240 acre property – owned and operated by the University of Alberta, is a mix of cultivated gardens and natural areas that includes wetlands, woods and meadows.
Hiking trails in the Botanical Gardens
One of the things that sets these gardens apart from others is the presence of several hiking trails. I don’t know how many kilometres there are in total but I do know it would be easy to get a solid half day of hiking in when the trails are open. (Right now call ahead as there are ongoing closures because of construction.)
The Devonian Link Trail is a new addition since I visited. Over its approximate 7 km length, the gravel-granular trail takes you from the Devonian Gardens to the Prospector’s Point Day Use Area on the North Saskatchewan River. The trail meanders through a range of terrain including wetlands, the river valley, dense forest, and boardwalks.
What you’ll see in the Botanical Gardens in Edmonton
The gardens can be walked in an hour if you move quickly but this is a place where you’ll want to linger; find a bench in the shade and enjoy the sights and the smells.
The Kurimoto Japanese Garden is definitely a highlight. The five acre garden is meant for strolling. Although the design is done in an authentic Japanese style, the plants that have been used are ones that thrive in Edmonton’s harsh winters.
I really enjoyed wandering the paths through the main garden, with stops to check out what was in bloom like the beautiful lady’s slipper below. The Herb Garden was my favourite with its interesting collection of plants that are used for both flavouring and medicinal purposes.
As an example, the buds of Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) yields salicylic acid from which aspirin is derived. There are a number of plants including wormwood, mugswort and coltsfoot that were used as medicinals before we had drugs.
Other gardens you’ll find here include the Rose Garden (not much happening when I was visiting), the Patrick Seymour Alpine Garden, the Native Peoples Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Trial, Fruit and Vegetable Gardens. Many of them had colour but were nowhere near as magnificent as they’ll be in a few weeks.
Don’t miss a quick stop at the Indoor Showhouses where you’ll see tropical plants and butterflies.
The gardens can be very busy on school days. It’s a popular destination for a field trip and a winner by the look on the kid’s faces especially around the ponds.
Need to eat?
The Patio Café, around the corner from the Shop in the Garden offers soups, sandwiches, salads as well as drinks and ice cream.
A gift donated by His Highness Aga Khan for the building of a garden based on Islamic Design opened in October 2018. The garden is described as being a “contemporary interpretation of Islamic landscape architecture is northernmost in the world.”
What else happens at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden?
There is a lot going on in the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens – from educational courses like the Master Gardener Certificate Program to summer camps for kids to Thursday date nights – with Improv Comedy this week and craft beer and croquet as examples for next week. Check out the website beforehand to see a full schedule by clicking here.
If you visit the Botanical Gardens in Edmonton
Note that because of the COVID-19 crisis all course and programs have been cancelled through to October 12, 2020. They are trying to open the gardens to the public in the summer but visit their website for further information and opening hours.
The gardens are usually open from May 1st until Thanksgiving.
Hours are 10 AM – 6 PM until Labour Day weekend. Then they close an hour earlier.
Tram tours are available for people with mobility issues.
There’s room to park an RV.
Admission is $17.00 per adult. Kids are $4.75 and youth (13 -17) are $9. Children 2 and under are free. (2020 pricing)
For more information visit the University of Alberta Botanic Garden website.
Other posts related to Edmonton you might enjoy:
- A Superb Visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Village
- Elk Island National Park: 5 Fantastic Things You’ll Want to Do
- Biking in Edmonton on the Edmonton River Valley Trails