Earth Day in Calgary

April 20, 2008

“Just like spring time in Alberta Warm sunny days endless skies of blue Then without a warning Another winter storm comes raging through . . . ” http://www.lyrics007.com

The living room is exploding with tomato, thyme, parsley, chive, pansies, geranium, wheat plants, etc waiting for May 24th. As the snow falls I think of composters, rainbarrels, herb gardens . . .

Earth Day April 2009

See Calgary events 2009 


The Calgary Horticulture Society is hosted an even 2009 at the Spruce Meadows, Calgary, AB with an entrance fee of $10. “This annual event brings together over 7,000 gardening and outdoor living enthusiasts for a trade fair complete with vendors, speakers from across Canada, and experts from the gardening community. From its start in the Hillhurst Community Centre with a few hundred guests, the Show has grown considerably each year.” Experts will be available to answer questions. They also host a Plant Share event on Saturday, May ?, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 12 Noon (Hours may be reduced if weather is poor) on the grassy field west of the Society office at 208 – 50 Ave. S.W.

The Calgary Earth Day events will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, Saturday, April 25, 2009 at the TELUS World of Science,  (701 11 Street SW). The event will be hosted by environmental groups from Calgary and across Alberta, and will feature fun and educational environmentally-themed games for the whole family. While the workshops and green activities are free with regular admission to the World of Science. These local environmental groups, businesses and projects will present their green projects:REAP, City of Calgary Waste and Recycling Services, Alberta Conservation Team, Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, Claudia’s Choices, Community Natural Foods, Students from Tanbridge Academy, Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Scouts Canada A .pdf list of Earth Day Celebration Workshops and Activities in Calgary 2009.

In contrast to the grey skies and high moisture of Vancouver Island’s unique ecosystem, Calgary’s sunny blue skies and dry summers provide different gardening challenges. I’ve become very interested by xeriscape gardening principles which include choosing low-maintenance and drought-resistant plants like stonecrops, sage, goldenrod, yucca and shrub roses. See Calgary Zoo and Botanical Gardens.


With so many green areas in Calgary has a lot of wildlife such as the wooded areas of Fish Creek Provincial Park along Fish Creek, Sandy Beach Park, Weaselhead, Griffith Woods Natural Areas, Bowness Park, Edworthy Park and along the shores of the Bow and Elbow riversbut they ares along the Bow River., Calgary has a lot of wildlife in the city including huge Snowshoe Hares with voracious appetites. Various gardeners have suggested cayenne pepper. I’ve also been told to try orange peels .

Ground cover

Ground cover, such as rocks, wood chips (cedar chips) conserves moisture in the soil and protects it against effects of weathering while reducing the growth of weeds.


Mulching “is one of the best ways to conserve water. It also reduces erosion and discourages weeds. Spread grass clippings or other mulch materials around the base of plants and shrubs. Applying organic matter (such as ground bark, animal manure, softwood sawdust, peat moss, leaves and wood or vegetable products) to soil increases its ability to hold water, and improves nutrient content.”

Geotextiles . . .

Landmaster, a weed control fabric is sold in rolls (3′ x 50′) that last five years. The fabric lets water and air through to the vegetable and/or floral plants but prevents weeds from growing. Weeds should be cleared from the planting area before laying the fabric which can be fit around existing plants or cut with X-shapes to place new plants through fabric. The fabric should be covered with 3″ – 4″ of mulch. Large or medium bark nuggets are recommended since weeds may grow through finer mulch.

Low-maintenance alpine plants suit rock gardens.

Lawns are high maintenance and thirsty.

Rain Barrels

The Clean Calgary Association: Environmental Education, Products and Services, are having a Rain Barrel Sale in partnership with the City of Calgary on

Rain Barrel Description:
The rain barrels are 45-gallon, food-grade plastic barrels fitted with two taps and a screened hole for a downspout.

More choices of rainbarrels . . .

Rainbarrels, composters and many other environmentally friendly products are available all year round at

The EcoStore

809 4th Avenue SW

tel: 230-1443 ext 222

Wed, Fri, Sat 10-4 pm


Use large recycled containers from restaurants, usually used for bulk supplies of tomato paste, etc.


“Composting helps reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing the number of trips trucks must make to the landfill as well as the amount of methane released by our landfills (See here for more info).”

“Nourish your lawn and garden with a thin layer of well-decomposed compost and rely less on chemical fertilizers.You can make your own compost for free. Compost helps the soil hold moisture so plants need less water, and provides a slow-release source of nutrients for plants.”

Worm composter:

The “two types of earthworm best suited to worm composting are the redworms: Eisenia foetida (commonly known as red wiggler, brandling, or manure worm) and Lumbricus rubellus They are often found in aged manure and compost heaps. Dew-worms (large size worms found in soil and compost) are not likely to survive.” For detailed information on worm composting visit this site.


Xeriscape gardening principles include choosing low-maintenance and drought-resistant plants like stonecrops, sage, goldenrod, yucca and shrub roses See Calgary Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

“Choose labour-saving plants such as those that are drought tolerant and pest resistant. There will be less need to control pests, which eliminates the need for pesticides that might affect your health, harm other living things and find their way into local streams. And you will use less water.”

Plant waterwise plants. “By reducing lawn area or by incorporating drought-tolerant plants that need less water, gardeners can help conserve water during hot, dry summer months. Small leaves, fat leaves, grey leaves, and fuzzy leaves are all indicators of drought-hardy plants.” See here for more info.

Native plants

Ornamental Grasses


“Natural yard care (or “ecoscaping”) is about working with nature to create a yard that is attractive and easy to maintain with a minimum of resources. Consider transforming a high-maintenance lawn into an inviting, drought-tolerant landscape that will become an inspiration for the neighbourhood and an important part of its biodiversity.”

Middle ground gardening


“Types of grasses in most Calgary lawns are actually cold season varieties which is why they require so much water and maintenance.” Gerald Vander Pyl for the Calgary Herald.

“Leave grass clippings on the lawn after you mow instead of raking and bagging them. This is also known as “grasscycling.”You save time, and the nutrients in the clippings provide organic matter and from 15 to 40 per cent of your lawn’s nitrogen needs.”


Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is valued for its unusual foliage. Flowers can be cut to remain fresh for as long as eight weeks. Popular varieties of the kalanchoe are the “Calypso,” “Bonanza,” and “Garnet.” Kalanchoe is both a house-plant and gardening favorite since it requires very little care in order to thrive. Kalanchoe plants are attractive in a basket with ivy and curly willows.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinderKalanchoe blossfeldiana Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Common Name: kalanchoe
Zone: 10 to 12
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Crassulaceae
Native Range: Madagascar
Height: 0.5 to 1.5 feet
Spread: 0.5 to 1.5 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Color: Scarlet, pink, salmon or yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low


Birds along the Bow River in Calgary in April: Bald Eagle, Northern Flicker, White-throated Sparrow, Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped Chickadee, Rock Pigeon, Mallard, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Franklin’s Gull (small, black-headed) is very common in the prairies.

Birds in Fish Creek park . . .



An expert gardener suggested that a very small, inexpensive (?) container could be installed with minimal change to a garden even on a rental property or where ownership is temporary. (It can be dug up when you leave if the next owner does not like it). Koy are relatively inexpensive (easy to replace), quite hardy and work hard to keep ponds clean of insects. Her neighbourhood cats don’t bother them. Water plants are expensive but even one adds to the pond’s appeal.

Potentially Problematic Plants

Avoid introducing plants described as “seeds freely.” List of Calgary “weeds.”

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