Native Species Gardens
The bronze sculpture honours the spirit of Pioneer Women. It is impossible to imagine the inner strength of these courageous women, who not only coped with the challenges of homesteading but in many cases also had to deal with much sadness and grief. These heroic women were truly remarkable individuals who made a lasting imprint in the building of our great Heritage.
Income in those early days was used to finance the operations of the homestead, resulting in the farm wife having no funds to call her own. Consequently, she turned to her feathered friends to remedy the situation. The income received from the sale of eggs was hers to do with as she wished, and it contributed to her sense of independence - something for the farmhouse, a gift for her dear friend, a special dress - the list was endless.
Members of Bow Valley Ranche Historical Society wanted a memorial to honor these valiant women. Accordingly, they commissioned Don and Shirley Begg of Studio West Bronze Foundry in Cochrane, Alberta, who put their many talents and master craftsmanship to work and created Egg Money, a timeless tribute to these special farm women. Donations were received from across Canada and the United States in support of Egg Money. These contributions evidenced the widespread respect and admiration held for these pioneer women.
On Mother's Day, May 12, 2002, The Honorable Dr. Lois Hole, C.M., AOE, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, unveiled Egg Money, this official declaration sealed in time a loving tribute to those pioneer women who gave so much and asked for so little in return.
THE NATIVE GARDEN PLANT SPECIES
Explore a selection of shrubs, plants and trees found today in the Native Gardens.
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief
Fish Creek Provincial Park is a unique and diverse landscape that contains immense historical, cultural and environmental significance.
Within the 2.5 acre setting along the Ranche Promenade (featuring gas lampposts) nestled between The Ranche House and Annie's, is a spectacular garden setting, showcasing a landscape representing the rich history of this area. The Native Gardens highlight native plants and grasses from the late 1800s.
Re-introduced to this site are trembling aspens, white spruce, saskatoon and chokecherry bushes, native roses and shrubs, snowberries, junipers as well as hundreds of wildflowers. Bunch wheat, needlegrass and several other species of native grasses also compliment these gardens. Volunteers of the Calgary Horticultural Society helped to restore this site back to its original heritage, by assisting with planting and maintenance.
These serene, educational and interpretive gardens feature quiet pathways, pine benches, an intimate period gazebo, mini-amphitheatre, historic gas lampposts and tons of sandstone boulders recovered from the surrounding natural area. Opened in June 2000, this assembling of the past that once harboured teepees, buffalo rings, wagon trails and farmlands, winds us through a historical course providing physical interaction and knowledge of our heritage.
The Ranche at Fish Creek Restoration Society gratefully acknowledges the dedication of Clancy Patton and Judy Lowas who contributed to the development and maintenance of the Native Gardens.
Features of The Native Gardens
Fish Creek Provincial Park is a unique and diverse landscape that contains immense historical, cultural and environmental significance. Of major importance is the plant life that existed in this area since time began. The Ranche at Fish Creek Restoration Society has created a historic Native Gardens, containing trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers and grasses which were so familiar to our ancestors. The 2.5-acre Native Gardens is situated between the restored Ranche House and Annie's Café. The initial construction of the gardens began in the fall of 1999.
White spruce and trembling aspens together with chokecherry and saskatoon bushes were planted in areas defined by the network of paths that meander through the gardens. Sandstone boulders, which occur naturally throughout Fish Creek Provincial Park, were strategically placed. Some of the rock boulders are engraved with sponsor's names, acknowledging their contribution to the restoration project.
Virgin prairie sod with all its accompanying plant life was donated to the Native Gardens by a local land developer. The prairie sod was reclaimed from the Cranston area, a new residential development in southwest Calgary, near Fish Creek Provincial Park The sod, containing all root material, was transported to the Native Gardens and carefully planted in the new home.
Native plants that continued their life cycle include wild roses, yarrow, crocus, snowberry, sage, native grasses, prairie coneflower, wolf willow, bedstraw, wild clover, potentilla, blanket flower, vetch, goldenrod, asters, fleabane and windflowers.
Golden Acre Garden Centres generously donated large quantities of plant material such as native roses, junipers, chokecherries, saskatoons, alpine currants, silver and russet buffaloberries, wolf willow, and dogwood. Additional prairie flowers indigent to the area were obtained prior to the "planting bee".
In June 2000, members of the Calgary Horticultural Society planted "plugs" of nodding onions, crocus, asters, bellflowers, bee balm, blanket flower, prairie smoke, wild flax, prairie coneflower, and blue-eyed grass. Other species of plants native to aspen woodlands and which grow in the Fish Creek area will be introduced into the Native Gardens over a period of time.
The Calgary Horticultural Society has formed an alliance with The Ranche at Fish Creek Restoration Society to maintain the Native Gardens and the Formal Gardens adjacent to The Ranche House. The Horticultural Society will also be involved in further design and planting of the site gardens and the introduction of a composting system. The Calgary Horticultural Society has introduced an "Adopt-A-Garden" concept, which provides for the maintenance and care of individual smaller areas within the Native Gardens.
A beautiful heritage gazebo creates a focal point in the Native Gardens together with five extraordinary hand-hewn pine benches. Fifteen black, cast iron gas lamps create an aura of "days gone by" on the Ranche Promenade, along the southern edge of the Native Gardens. A mini-amphitheatre, created from large flat rocks, is located at the east end of the gardens. This is an ideal location where outdoor classes can be held to inform school children, the general public and tourists about the fascinating history existing in this beautiful and historic part of Calgary.